Do fish lay down?

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Having a fish tank is one of the best things when it comes to having pets. There are many great pets that you can get, but nothing beats owning a fish or fishes. It is incredibly refreshing just to sit down and watch these cool animals do their thing after a long day at work. The nature of fishes and their habitat gives the impression that they can do no evil, and in most cases, they never do.

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Tank owners have always marveled at some of the behaviors exhibited by fishes and how they vary among different species. One of these behaviors is fishes lying down at the bottom of tanks.

When noticed, this occurrence typically gets owners, especially newbies, apprehensive. They start to feel that something may be wrong with the fish in question, perhaps it is unhealthy or going through stress. This has triggered the question of whether fishes lay down or if it is an abnormal experience. We will be answering this question to let you know if this behavior is something to worry about or not.

Firstly, fishes can lay at the bottom of the tank without actually going through stress, illness, or any health conditions. Some fishes prefer playing and relaxing at the bottom of tanks where it is less crowded. Most of these fishes are naturally solitary and prefer to be on their own. Sometimes they may be spotted digging at the bottom of the substrate to eat food crumbs at the bottom or exploring.

Another reason that could make a fish lay down at the bottom of the tank is when it is having a rest. Fishes have different sleep times. Some sleep at night while some during the day when you are watching them. Also, some who sleep during the day prefer to lay at the bottom, and the fact that fishes do not close their eyes when they sleep could make you think that they are going through an abnormality which isn’t the case.

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Also, fishes can lay down when they are stressed or ill, and you would want to make sure that they get treated. You can look for the obvious signs to know that the fish is sick by tracking its history. If it is a loner, then there is nothing to worry about. We have now seen that it is quite possible for fishes to lay down without anything being wrong with them.

Do fish lay down
Do fish lay down

Why Is My Fish Laying Down? 

You may have spotted one of your fish lying down at the bottom of the tank, and that has made you kind of apprehensive. Well, it is quite normal to get worried about your fish, but there might not be a problem. While inactiveness in fishes is always a cause for concern, your fish laying down doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing. Some fish can cool off in the bottom after swimming and playing all day. If its pelvic fins are in motion, it is healthy and really shouldn’t make you sweat over. Older fishes may also be spotted lying down frequently as they do not have the energy and stamina to move around for long.

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While a fish could lay at the bottom of the tank for the reasons above, it is also possible that a poor environment could trigger this behavior. Excessive current and flow could force fishes to the bottom of the tank to get a level of stability. However, the current can be regulated by attaching a sponge filter that can help reduce the flow of water or direct it towards the decoration in the tank.

Ammonia and nitrate produced by fish waste can compound and make the water toxic for its inhabitants. Ammonia can burn the fish gills and lead to their death, while nitrate can weaken the fish immunity and subject them to extreme stress. The water temperature can also force fishes downwards, so you have to make sure that the temperature is standard to make the tank suited for your fishes. A small aquarium can also force some fishes downward to avoid fights or create space for exploring.

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What To Do If Your Fish Is Laying On The Bottom?

It can be quite nerve-racking to have your fish lying at the bottom of the tank. You start to think if there might be something wrong, if it was the food or if it is ill. This anxiety only gets worse if the fish before laying down was usually very active. Whichever be the case, your fish laying down at the bottom is no doubt worthy of attention, and this is why we will be giving tips on what to do if your fish is lying down at the bottom of the tank.

If your fish is always lying down at the bottom, you should try to determine its normal behavior or nature. Knowing your fish species and nature can save you from unnecessary stress. Some fishes are cool with their own space and may want their own time; the Goldfish being a perfect example. It could also be possible that the only available quiet area in the tank is at the bottom and it will naturally drift there.

If your fish does not naturally lie at the bottom, you would want to check if it is ill. To know this, you should watch its swimming speed, how long it spends at the bottom, if it swims upside down, and if it can’t compete for food. If any of these is noticed, you should call a vet as soon as possible to increase your fish’s chances of survival and recovery.

If you do not see any of these signs but find signs like nipped fins, bites, and tears all over your fish, then it is possible that a fight had occurred. You should immediately separate the fish and use the saltwater treatment if it is just an injured fin. If it is worse, then you should call a vet.

Suppose you notice that several fishes are unusually lying at the bottom. It is best that you immediately carry out a water test for ammonium and nitrate concentration to know if the water has become toxic.

Finally, another situation that can cause your fish to lay on the bottom could be an unhealthy massive water change. There is hardly anything that could stress, weaken fish immunity and kill them faster than this mistake. If you have done this, then you should immediately call a vet for emergency salvaging.

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How Can You Tell If A Fish Is Asleep?

Fish do not sleep as humans do. They do not have eyelids, so they can’t shut their eyes, which is the obvious indicator of sleep among mammals. While they do not show any pointing sign that they may be sleeping, these animals do go off and try to rejuvenate. In this article, we will be discussing how you can tell that your fish is asleep.

Fishes, when asleep, are almost motionless and mostly float on the surface or the bottom of the aquarium tank. They also respond slowly to their environment and could be vulnerable to aggressive attacks. This is why most owners make it compulsory to create artificial hiding spots such as plants and hollow stones to help less aggressive fishes hide when asleep.

Also, while they have no eyelids, to help you know if they are asleep or not, taking note of their gills could help you find out. When sleeping, their rate of breathing becomes slow, and this change is noticed in their gills.

Some species of fish make it a bit more obvious when sleeping. The wrasses and parrotfish are examples as they can create a slimy sleeping bag. When asleep, these fishes bring out mucus cocoons that protect them from getting attacked by aggressive fishes. The Goldfish also creates a form of protection for itself by fading its color during sleep, making it difficult to spot. With all of these, you can tell if your fish is sleeping or not.

Do Fish Sleep At The Bottom Of The Tank?  

Watching an aquarium can be very pleasant and soothing after a long day at work. You get to find out that there are so many things to learn about these pets regarding behavior, like how they survive, eat, and play. Another behavior fishes also display is how some species prefer to lay at the bottom of the tank. Usually, tank owners get to see their fish lay at the bottom of the tank, and this causes a series of emotions that include indifference, fright, and horror. Depending on the fish species laying down can mean a lot of things. It could mean the fish enjoys being alone, is ill, injured, or sleeping.

Fish can sleep at the bottom of the tank, and they could do so for many reasons. Some fish may decide to go to the bottom of the tank to sleep if the aquarium temperature is too hot. Fishes usually prefer cold water and may swim down for comfort. The bottom of the aquarium, due to its content, is colder than most parts.

Another reason fishes could swim to the bottom of their tank is if they are solitary. To avoid disturbance or confrontation, they usually prefer to stay out of others’ way and go for the less crowded bottom.

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How Do Fish Sleep?

Just like humans and most animals, fish also sleep. However, unlike humans that close their eyes and stay motionless, fishes sleep with their eyes open as they do not have eyelids and remain in motion to maintain balance. When asleep, fish metabolism becomes very slow and remains that way for hours.

There are different species of fish, and all of them have their preferred sleeping pattern. Most species are active during the day and sleep at night, while very few are nocturnal and prefer to rest during the day. 

To determine if a fish is asleep, you would have to observe a few signs like their movement rate and metabolism. When sleeping, their rate of swimming is very slow and unfocused. They simply float on the surface or at the bottom of the water to keep balance. When asleep, fishes are generally non-responsive to things in their environment.

Fishes like dolphins, sharks, and tuna all swim and stay active during the day. These fish are also known to use half of their brain to sleep and the other half for breathing and swimming, causing them to maintain their balance while sleeping.

How Long Do Fish Sleep?

If there is any animal in the world that has a funny way of falling asleep, it is fishes. In fact, very few people know if fishes sleep as they seem always to be awake. The truth is, fishes do sleep. They just don’t do it the way we are used to. Most mammals sleep with their eyes closed and remain motionless for hours, but this is not the case for fishes. Firstly, they don’t have eyelids which means they can’t close their eyes when sleeping. Also, they do not remain motionless as they swim at a slow, calm rate during sleep.

These sleep patterns make it difficult to know when fishes actually go to sleep and when they are awake. Many owners have continuously asked how long fishes sleep, but this question is not easy to answer as you have to measure when they fall asleep by observing their metabolism rate.

According to most research, the study of how long fishes sleep is still an active ongoing project, and the best bet is that they sleep just as long as an average human or most mammals. There is no fixed time yet, and we hope we will get to find out soon.

Do Fish Sleep Upside Down? 

Healthy fish do not swim or sleep upside down. They are either upright or stationary when they sleep. If your fish is sleeping upside down, then it is because it is likely ill or has a bladder infection that makes it difficult or impossible for it to swim. This infection can happen to any fish, and lying upside down is an obvious pointer that the problem has become very critical and has to be treated immediately.

Bladder infection is typically caused by a temporal or permanent deformation that causes the bladder of the affected fish to become narrow. This infection can be due to too much air swallowed by the fish, bacterial Infection, injury, or swollen belly. To treat a bladder infection, aquarium owners would have to fetch the fish with this problem from the crowd and call a vet or relocate the fish to the veterinary facility for treatment.

If the reason your fish is sleeping upside is due to a bloated stomach, then it should be fed with food rich in fiber to help regulate its digestive system. Pea and Daphnia are the best-tested treatments of constipation in fish. Daphnia can sometimes be challenging to get in local stores. However, it can be easily ordered from online aquarium stores.

It’s also best for aquarium owners to watch their fish to spot out early signs of imbalance in any fish. A –nose-down-tail-up swimming in or sideways swimming is an obvious sign of a life-threatening condition.

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Do Fish Dream?

Fishes do not have eyelids which makes detecting sleep in them very difficult. However, they do sleep, and they spend hours doing so. Those enthralled with the study and love for fishes have generally wondered if fishes can experience what humans and most mammals experience during sleep, like dreaming.

The answer to this question is not very straightforward, as some fish experience an equivalent of what humans call REM sleep, a state that triggers the ability to dream. The zebrafish is an example of fishes that experience REM sleep.

However, most fishes have not been confirmed to experience REM sleep, and even zebra fishes have not yet been fully confirmed to dream. Therefore, until research proves otherwise, fishes cannot be said to dream.

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Do Fish Need Darkness To Sleep?

The ability of fishes to sleep is quite surprising and a cause of wonder for most fish lovers, given these wonderful creatures do not have eyelids. Also, they can sleep without having to be in a state of zero movement. Sleeping fishes swim around when they sleep, though the movement is actually slow, has no wiggling to it, and is extremely calm.

Fishes have different sleep patterns depending on the species. Most fishes are diurnal, which means they sleep at night and carry out their activities during the day like most mammals. Others are nocturnal, prowling in the night and sleeping during the day. This varying character shows that what influences sleep in fishes is their nature and not the brightness or darkness. A Nocturnal fish will rest in the day and won’t really care about light. Also, those that rest in the night will sleep when it is dark due to their diurnal nature.

Hazel Buckley
Hazel Buckley

About Hazel Buckley
Hazel is an animal enthusiast and educator who grew up on a farm which her parents owned in Ingogo, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.  The farm was situated right under the Majuba Mountains - the site where the Anglo-Boer War was fought. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.