Do Betta Fish Need a Light? Guide To Betta Fish Lighting

Do Betta Fish Need a Light?

In their natural habitat, betta fish live in shallow streams and flooded rice paddies, in water frequently muddy and shaded with vegetation. Since they are often in low-visibility environments, do betta fish need light a light? And how much light do they need? Let’s learn more about the lighting conditions that are best for a betta fish.

Do Betta Fish Need Light?

Yes, betta fish need light. In fact, it is vital for the health of a betta fish, just like it is for people. Here are some of the reasons betta fish need light.

Light Promotes Healthy Circadian Rhythms for a Betta Fish

Like people, betta fish are awake during the day and sleep at night when there is less risk of predators. But, similar to humans, the circadian rhythm in a betta fish doesn’t just aid waking and sleeping; it also influences appetite, digestion, stress, and overall well-being.

Therefore, regular light and dark periods every day help them get restful sleep and maintain good health.

Light Helps Betta Fish See

It may seem obvious, but betta fish can be fierce little predators. They use their eyes to see prey and hunt accurately. In a fish tank, betta fish need light to see their food and eat normally.

Promotes Vivid Color in a Betta Fish

Most people love betta fish for their beautiful fins and vivid color. Adequate lighting helps to ensure that your betta fish maintains their famous bright, beautiful colors.

Contributes to Healthy Aquarium Plants

Wild betta fish live in streams and puddles with lots of vegetation. Plants add interest to their fish tanks and help reduce stress on a betta fish by giving them places to hide, rest, and feel safe. Living plants need light to thrive, and so does your betta fish.

Helps Betta Fish Breeding

If you plan on breeding your betta fish, the right lighting conditions can help them spawn more successfully.

For all these reasons and more, betta fish need light.

How Much Lighting do Betta Fish Need?

Because light helps betta fish maintain a healthy schedule and sleep well at night, they need light on a regular schedule. Therefore, providing 8-12 hours of light during the day, and 8-12 hours of darkness at night, on a  consistent schedule, is best for a betta fish.

Can a Betta Fish Get Too Much Light?

Unfortunately, yes, they can get too much light. Too much light is associated with some betta fish problems, including:

Too Much Can Stress a Betta Fish

Betta fish often feel safer and more relaxed when they can hide in a shady, overgrown spot, where they feel safe from predators. On the other hand, tanks that are empty and brightly lit can make a betta fish feel exposed and unsafe, stressing the fish.

Too Much Promotes Algae Bloom

Of course, too much natural light can also promote excess algae growth in the tank, creating unhealthy water conditions.

Too Much Creates Overstimulation

Too much light can overstimulate a betta fish with too much visual activity. As a result, they may remain more active longer than usual, reducing how much sleep they get.

Too Much Can Be an Appetite Suppressant

As mentioned above, circadian rhythms are linked not just to sleep but also to health. For example, too much light can stress the fish and confuse their natural rhythms, so they may not eat as much or eat when needed.

Do Betta Fish Need a Light

What’s the Best Lighting for a Betta Fish?

Since betta fish have such a consistent cycle of day and night, you might think that natural sunlight is best for your betta fish. However, no fish tank, including a betta fish tank, should ever be placed in direct sunlight. This is because the sun doesn’t just produce large amounts of light; it can also create a lot of heat.

Setting an aquarium in the direct sun causes it to heat up quickly in the morning and cool down quickly at night, which causes a significant temperature fluctuation that is unhealthy for most fish.

Betta fish prefer a more consistent, comfortable temperature, so you can place the tank in a light room with indirect sunlight, but don’t place it in a warm window. Here’s how to light a betta fish tank instead:

Use Artificial Light

Betta fish do just as well with artificial light and LEDs as they do with the natural sun, and artificial light gives you more control and consistency in the fish tank environment. Fluorescent lights are a good choice because they produce light without excess heat, and fluorescent lights can also benefit plant growth.

Use a Timer

There is a vast range of timers you can use to automate your betta fish’s aquarium light. Using a timer ensures a consistent lighting schedule, regardless of the time of year, cloudy weather, or your personal schedule.

Limit Reflections

Betta fish are famous for being territorial and willing to attack other fish, to the point where they will even attack their own reflections. While occasionally showing a betta a mirror to see them rouse and display may not be harmful, constantly exposing them to reflections can be stressful.

In addition, a well-lit tank can occasionally cause mirror-like reflections inside that should be avoided for a betta fish. Here are some ways to limit reflections.

Keep the Room Lit With the Aquarium

Reflections are most likely to arise when the fish tank is lit, but the rest of the room is dark. You can avoid that by keeping room lights on when the aquarium light is on.

Provide Plants and Décor

Dense plants and décor can help to mask reflections and make the betta feel safer.

Use Aquarium Paper

Aquarium background paper can help make your fish tank look more beautiful, but it also prevents light reflections inside the tank, making it a calmer habitat for a betta fish.

Change Lighting Conditions Gradually

Unlike people, the eyes of a betta fish cannot adjust quickly to changing lighting conditions. In fact, it can take up to an hour for a betta fish’s eyes to adjust to very bright or very dim light.

So instead of abruptly turning lights on and off, you can avoid startling or dazzling the fish by changing lighting conditions gradually. This may mean turning on the room lights before turning on the aquarium lights, providing filtered daylight, or even using an aquarium light with a dimming function.

These lights can be programmed to come on and turn off gradually, simulating sunrise and sunset for a more natural, relaxing environment for your betta fish.

Choose a full-spectrum light. While colored LED lights can be pretty and not harmful for a betta fish in small amounts, for regular daily use, choose full-spectrum lights. The light that emits the full spectrum of color wavelengths is more natural for a betta fish and better for the health and growth of living aquarium plants.


To be happy and healthy, a betta fish doesn’t just need a light. Instead, a betta fish needs a regular routine of light and dark, so they can be awake and active in the day and well-rested at night.

A natural cycle of light and dark not only helps them relax and sleep well, but it’s also linked to a betta fish’s appetite and eating habits, breeding habits, and fish stress and mood, so make sure that you care for your betta with a regular lighting routine.

Choose an aquarium light that has a timer, and, even better, choose a lighting system that changes gradually, simulating sunrise and sunset, for the best environment for your betta fish and any living plants in your fish tank.

Be careful to reduce or eliminate reflections in the tank, and provide shady hiding spots to help your betta feel safe and comfortable in your home. The proper lighting helps your betta be happy, healthy, and beautiful, so take care of your fish with a great lighting setup.