October 26, 2022 — 10:01 AM
Animal symbolism can show up in our everyday lives, as well as in our dreams. And if you’ve been dreaming about fish a lot lately, you might be wondering what it could be trying to tell you. So, we got the expert opinion from dream analysts—here’s what they had to say.
What does dreaming of fish mean?
Fish are a common spiritual and religious symbol, and when they show up in dreams, that symbolism can often come across. For one thing, professional dream interpreter Lauri Loewenberg tells mbg that fish dreams often relate to pregnancy or fertility.
To that end, she adds, fertility can also relate to creative fertility, with the fish representing the thing you’re creating from your emotional landscape (with water being the emotions).
There are more nuanced interpretations and explanations of fish dreams depending on the specifics of the dream, which we’ll get into shortly. But before that, it’s important to note that there are no universal meanings for dream images. People can have a common dream and find the most common interpretation resonates but not always.
As therapist and dream expert Leslie Ellis, Ph.D., explains, “My dream fish might represent something slimy and disgusting, while your fish might be a gorgeous, colorful pet, or an animal you deeply respect and have grown to love because you have spent many happy hours fly-fishing, catching and releasing rare specimens.”
She does believe that fish have often had religious or historical significance, thought to represent procreation and renewal, “But I think it’s better to ask a person who dreams about fish what the specific nature of their dream-fish is and also what kinds of feelings they personally associate with fish.”
8 common fish dreams & their interpretations:
1. If you’re pregnant or trying to conceive.
Set yourself up for success with a good night’s sleep.*
According to Loewenberg, fish dreams are heavily associated with pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester, and/or if you’re trying to conceive. She explains that the fish itself represents the fetus, and the water is the womb. Fish in this way are also associated with creation of any kind, including art or another creative project, she adds.
In some cases, you might dream of fish in a natural body of water. If you dream of a pet fish, such as a goldfish, Loewenberg notes it could symbolize a responsibility you have. If you dreamed that your pet fish was dying, for example, this could mean you feel like you’re mishandling something you’re meant to take care of. This is especially true if you’re tending to a creative project, Loewenberg adds.
3. If you’re going fishing.
We’ve all heard the expression, “There are plenty of fish in the sea,” and according to Loewenberg, fish dreams can represent something we’re trying to “reel in,” whether it’s a relationship, a new job, or even a positive quality, like compassion or discipline. “So if you’re going fishing, ask yourself what you’re hoping to reel into your life—and what you’ve ‘casted out,'” she explains.
4. If you see a school of fish.
If you’re dreaming about schools of fish, Loewenberg notes this can relate to learning how to “go with the flow,” so to speak, as well as literally “schooling” yourself in an area you might be slacking. You may have important learning to do, she explains, or alternatively, the school of fish can represent letting go of resistance and surrendering to life’s ebbs and flows.
5. If you associate fish with religion or spirituality.
As aforementioned, fish are a popular spiritual symbol, particularly in Christianity. Loewenberg tells mbg that fish can represent faith, spirituality, and/or religion, and their health will often be indicative of how you’re feeling in that area of your life. “You want to see lots of healthy, beautiful fish, as that means you’re feeling fulfilled and have a lot of potential—in the romance department, in the creative department, or in the spiritual department,” she adds.
6. If the fish is dangerous or attacking you.
In some cases, you may dream about a dangerous fish, like a piranha, and/or that a fish is attacking you. According to Loewenberg, the fish in this case may be connected to criticism or perceived criticism toward you. Someone in your real life may be coming at you with sharp biting remarks, “and the more the fish are biting at you, the more you’re allowing this to eat away at you,” she explains.
7. If the fish is out of water.
Lastly, Loewenberg says sometimes people report dreaming about fish that are out of water. And just like the play on words suggests, this dream can mean you feel like a “fish out of water.” She explains that this dream is often about feeling out of your element—literally “floundering.”
How to work through this dream.
When it comes to working through any dream, the key, according to both Loewenberg and Ellis, is to look closely at your own personal associations with the dream symbols, as well as how you felt in the dream. From there, relate the dream symbols and your feelings in the dream to your waking life, and ask how they might be connected.
Here’s more on how to interpret dreams to help you pin down your dream’s message.
Beyond that, Loewenberg explains that fish dreams do often have to do with pregnancy, creation, and/or reeling something in. So if that resonates, she says, think about the possibilities that are open to you and how you can support any relevant ventures. (It never hurts to do some dream journaling, as well.)
“And what especially were you thinking or saying to yourself in the dream when you’re looking at or interacting with the fish? The thoughts you have in the dream will always apply to what waking life thoughts are currently in your life,” she says.
Dreams can be slippery, not unlike a fish—difficult to grasp, but we try nonetheless. Fish are a common symbol that can show up in dreams for similar reasons—and only you can truly know what a dream is truly trying to tell you.