What It Really Means When You Dream About Fish

Sometimes the meaning of the dreams we have at night can seem pretty straight-forward; for instance, if you’re nervous about an exam you have the next morning and you dream of failing the exam, there isn’t generally too much to unpack there. However, our dreams are frequently filled with images or events that aren’t as clearly based in the experiences of our daily lives. It is generally agreed upon that much of what we see and experience in dreams is symbolic, and that the meaning underneath dreams that may seem abstract or random can be uncovered with some analysis. Greek philosopher and playwright Aristotle said, “The most skillful interpreters of dreams are they who have the faculty of observing resemblances” (via Dreams).

While some of our stranger dreams may involve people we’ve never met, fantastical situations, or impossible feats like flying, others may feature animals. Just as animal sightings in the waking world are often thought to have spiritual or psychological significance, seeing animals like birds or spiders in your dreams can have specific and underlying meanings (via Dream Moods). If you are someone who has seen fish in your dreams, they too hold meanings all their own. 

The spiritual significance of fish dreams

One way to interpret dreams about fish is to consider the animal’s spiritual significance. If you are a Christian or align with beliefs about Jesus, you’re likely to have seen the symbol of an Ichthys, which is the fish symbol made from two intersecting arches (you’ve likely seen it on bumper stickers, if you haven’t seen it elsewhere). These dual arches coming together to make a fish represent the duality of Jesus’ existence as both a human being and also a divine being (via Crystal Clear Intuition). Interestingly, while most of us don’t claim to be the son of God as the new testament says Jesus was, those of us who have strong spiritual beliefs do tend to see ourselves as both worldly and spiritual creatures, so we ourselves also possess this duality that the fish represents. 

Long before Christianity, the fish was already revered by various cultures and religions because of this same duality; it serves as sustenance to human beings in a very literal and earthly way, but because of its life in water, which itself holds deep spiritual significance for people and is often said to represent human emotions and the depths of the unconscious (via Brian Collins), the fish straddles two worlds, the physical and the spiritual (via Crystal Clear Intuition).  

Consider meaning that you ascribe to the word fish

Dream expert Lauri Loewenberg tells Bustle, “First and foremost, remember that dreams love to use wordplay,” so when you hear the word fish, what do you immediately think of? Many of us might immediately associate the word with the phrase “fish out of water” or “there are plenty of fish in the sea.” If this is the case for you, consider whether either of these very-common phrases might hold significance to you in your life right now. Are you about to enter a new work environment and feeling nervous about being out of place? Are you moving to a new city and feeling like you can’t “breathe” in the busy, bustling environment (like a fish out of water)? 

With regard to there being plenty of fish in the sea, are you contemplating a new opportunity because you are feeling stagnant? Are you considering leaving a relationship that isn’t serving you? Or perhaps you are single and feeling frustrated about how long it is taking you to find someone you want to start a relationship with. You know your life and inner struggles and dreams better than anyone else, so while dream experts can give you guidance and details to use, you are likely the most reliable person to interpret the meaning of what the word fish means to you.  

What are the fish doing in your dream?

While fish can generally have certain meanings in dreams, what those fish are doing and where they are (and how you are relating to them) in your dream makes all the difference. For instance, if you are dreaming of fish swimming in clear and clean water, you may be heading toward a goal of financial security or standing more strongly in your power (via The Cut). If you are dreaming of a fish swimming for the surface or surfacing, you may be about to receive something that feels like a breath of clean, fresh air like a new love, new job, or new sense of freedom or opportunity. Conversely, if you dream of fish swimming in murky water, you may be feeling stagnant, unclear, confused, or held back by some obstacle in some fashion. 

What do the fish look like? If they are colorful or if their gills are shimmering in the light, this could be a sign of creativity or inspiration, and maybe you are currently feeling or are about to feel artistic or inspired (via Bustle). The number of fish you see swimming can also be significant. If you see a large school of fish, it can be a sign of abundance, plenty, and material comforts.   

Are you catching the fish?

Thus far we’ve discussed dreams in which you are seeing or watching fish in their habitat, but what about dreams in which you are fishing or actively trying to catch a fish? Well, first consider if you are a person who goes fishing in their normal waking life. If you are someone who enjoys fishing as a relaxing hobby or who is employed as a commercial fisherman or woman, then you could just be dreaming about anxieties or successes at your job or looking to escape to your happy place of relaxing with a line in your hand (via Dreaming and Sleeping). 

If, however, you don’t fish, then consider the symbolic meanings. (via Dreaming and Sleeping). The act of fishing in a dream is twofold. It could mean you are seeking prosperity, opportunity, growth, and other positive things, and catching a fish is a sign that those things are coming into your life. It can also mean you’re someone with hidden depths and complex emotions, and you are seeking better understanding of something hidden underneath the surface. Also take note of what you reel in. If you catch a fish and feel happy about it, great! If, however, a shark or sea monster is attached to your line, it could be a warning you are inviting something dangerous into your life (via Bustle). And if you throw a fish back, it could be time to let go of something no longer serving you.    

Dreaming about eating fish

If you dream about eating fish, your personal feelings about eating fish will come into play with regard to what the dream likely means (via Bustle). If you like fish and in the dream you are enjoying your dinner, then it is likely a positive sign that you are doing something good for yourself in your waking life, something that nourishes your body or soul. If, however, you are not enjoying it or it tastes bad to you, then you may be dealing with something in the real world that has left a figurative “bad taste in your mouth,” and it is time to address it so that it doesn’t breed resentment or let the “bad taste” linger. 

Further, if you dream about dead fish that you aren’t eating or catching (if they are floating in water or stranded on a beach, for instance), this could be a warning sign that you are neglecting something, and the neglect is letting it die. Maybe you have been ignoring a talent you have, a dream you want to reach for, or a relationship that needs your care and attention. This dream could be a wake-up call to take action and breathe new and loving life back into whatever it is that needs you.  

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