Do Goldfish Sleep? Here’s How To Tell

multiple goldfish
Goldfish do indeed sleep, here is how to tell if they are sleeping, when they actually sleep and why this question often causes a lot of confusion to new aquarium owners.

When it comes to home aquariums, goldfish are of course one of the most popular pet fish by far, and this goes for kids and adults alike. Now, a common question we are asked is “Do Goldfish Sleep?”.

The short answer is yes, goldfish do sleep like most beings on this planet. The main reason this causes confusion with goldfish is because they do not have eyelids, so it looks like they are always awake but they do indeed sleep.

So, Do Goldfish Actually Sleep?

goldfish asleep

Yes, so goldfish do sleep. Just like humans, goldfish require sleep to recharge their batteries. Without sleep, just like us, eventually a goldfish will die.

Indeed, goldfish can be sleep deprived, and when they are sleep deprived, their behaviour is not unlike that of a sleep deprived human being.

Living organisms all need time to rest and restore energy, or eventually they shut down, and yes, this includes goldfish.

Do They Sleep at Night?

There is nothing which dictates that goldfish have to sleep at night, but nonetheless, just like us humans, they do usually sleep at night. One thing that is interesting about goldfish is that they do not have eyelids.

A lot of people wonder whether or not goldfish close their eyes to sleep, and therefore, many people think that because their goldfish’s eyes are open, that it is not sleeping. However, this is just wrong, as goldfish do not have eyelids and thus there is nothing to close and cover the eyes.

A goldfish, based on its eyes alone, looks the same awake as it does asleep. However, this does mean that they prefer to sleep at night when it is dark. For one, unless a goldfish were nocturnal, it is only natural for any living creature to sleep at night, especially without refined night vision.

Hunting and foraging during the night, without night vision, is impossible, and therefore there is not much reason for a goldfish to be awake at night. Just like most other creatures, night time is when goldfish sleep.

Of course, this will depend on your aquarium lighting. A tip here is to always turn the lights off for 12 hours per day when it is normally dark or night time out. For the most part, it makes sense that your goldfish follow your own sleeping patterns.

Do Goldfish Sleep Upside Down?

No, absolutely not. Goldfish do not sleep upside down and they don’t sleep leaning to one side either.

Goldfish, although they may be asleep for all intents and purposes, their inner functions, such as buoyancy and balance control, don’t just shut off. A fish is not going to start listing to one side or floating totally upside down when it is asleep.

If you have a healthy fish that is asleep, you will notice their fins still making small movements to correct their position and to keep them straight and right side up.

If your goldfish is upside down, or even just sideways, it’s a sign that the fish is very ill, and it may have some sort of swim bladder disease or disorder.

If your fish is sideways or upside down at any time, you need to find out what the issue is and treat it right away.

Do Goldfish Sleep at the Bottom of the Tank?

Generally speaking, yes, goldfish sleep near the bottom of the tank.

No, they don’t actually sleep right at the bottom, or in other words, they won’t touch down and rest on the substrate, but they will usually hover no more than an inch or two from the bottom while they are sleeping.

How Do You Know if A Goldfish is Sleeping?

There are a couple of quick ways to tell if your Goldfish is sleeping, a few telltale signs that indicate Goldie is having some sweet dreams.

That said, to be fair, it can be a little difficult to tell.

  • If your goldfish is simply hovering in one spot, very inactive, and only moving enough to keep itself stable, it’s probably asleep.
  • You may notice your goldfish’s color fade a bit, which often happens during sleep. Don’t worry, the color will come back when it wakes up.
  • Keep in mind that if your fish is listing, sideways, or upside down, it’s not really sleeping. This is a strong indication of illness.


So, although goldfish don’t have eyelids they can close, they certainly do sleep. Turn off the aquarium light for at least 12 hours per day (during the night), and try not to startle your goldfish when it’s sleeping. Nobody likes to be woken up from a sweet dream.

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