The Symbolic Meanings of Fish

by | Sep 27, 2021 | Symbolisms | 0 comments

To fully grasp what a fish represents, we must look at its connection to water on a psychological level. Water has long been used as a metaphor for the subconscious, healing, and emotions. Fish symbolism is linked to the concepts of knowledge, change, creativity, and eternity due to this information.

Fish have served as a powerful metaphor for the water element since antiquity, and it continues to do so today.

Water is a potent metaphor of the unconscious in psychological terms. As a metaphor for knowledge, water alludes to the unknown.  Water, in the end, has a strong association with rebirth and new life.

What, then, do fish represent in this situation? Fish, being an aquatic animal, is associated with rapid mobility and self-reliance. As a symbol of the unconscious, fish symbolizes one’s inner self, emotions, and motivations. It also serves as a metaphor for increased consciousness, intellect, and the capacity for creative thinking.

a large number of aquatic creatures

For this reason, any animals that live in or near water will stand for fertility, rebirth, and new beginnings. It’s the same with fish, which has a lot of meaning for the divine feminine.

The symbolic significance of fish varies from culture to culture, as well as species to species. The fish is also associated with good fortune and wealth.

It’s essential to learn about the fantastic journey fish have taken via myth and history to comprehend what they symbolize. As a ubiquitous food source, fish has inspired many beautiful tales and stories throughout history.

The symbolism of the Fish in Native American Culture

The symbolism of the Fish in Native American Culture

Native Americans were very spiritual people who lived in harmony with the natural world. Symbols and signs allowed them to transmit their knowledge, history, and life experience from one generation to the next.

The fish was an important food source for certain tribes; therefore, they worshipped it, much like the Plains tribes loved the buffalo. Many of the North West’s indigenous peoples revered the salmon as a sacred medicine animal, who used it in many ceremonial rituals.

Some Native American tribes utilized fish as a clan animal as well, although this is less common. This list should include tribes such as the Creek, the Chickasaw, and the Ho-Chunks.

Their totem pole crests featured fish such as salmon, sturgeon, and halibut. Eastern tribes like the Iroquois,  Lenape, and Caddo had Fish Dances as part of their ceremonies, while the Hopi used to have a Fish kachina as part of their religious beliefs.

But for the Native Americans, what do fish represent? Its meaning is linked to wealth and success since this aquatic species was a primary source of nourishment for many cultures. The fish is indeed a fertility symbol.

In the Kwagiulth culture, having twins was considered a special gift from the fish. In addition to being a talented shapeshifter and water element magician, fish is often portrayed as a symbol of intelligence and an in-depth understanding of nature’s secrets.

Eastern Symbolism of Fish

Colorful Koi Fishes

Let’s find out what the fish represents to the Asian culture. As a sign of fertility, loyalty, and a long and happy marriage, koi fish are traditionally given to newlywed couples in China.

People in Asia see these fish as a sign of riches and plenty because of their vibrant colors and high price.

The koi fish represents both bravery and persistence, according to the symbology. They’ve been linked to willpower because of their prowess in scaling raging rivers and waterfalls.

Koi fish evoke images of a Samurai warrior in the minds of Japanese people.

In the Buddhist tradition, seeing a pair of golden fish is one of eight auspicious signs.

Because the fish are free to swim anywhere they choose, the allusion is to contentment. They are also a symbol of fertility and wealth. The koi fish represents longevity due to its lengthy life expectancy.

The fish represents both creation and change in Eastern Indian mythology. According to an ancient myth, Vishnu took on the form of a fish to rescue the world from the oncoming deluge.

Christian symbolism of fish

Christian symbolism of fish

For Christians, the fish is an essential symbol since it represents Jesus Christ. There is an ancient fish symbol known as ichthys, which means the fish and Jesus fish.

It was thought that the fish symbol would not raise concerns since it predates Christianity used by both Greeks and Romans. Ichthus fish identified these Christian shrines and burial sites.

The importance of Jesus’ fish parable is also connected to the Holy Eucharist, which is a central Christian tradition. The significance of the ichthus fish may be seen throughout the Bible. It is well-known how many loaves and fish Jesus multiplied.

The fish represents trust, plenty, and, most importantly, compassion in this context. For a deeper understanding of biblical fish symbolism, see the Gospels. Fishers of men were the terms Jesus used to describe His followers.

In this context, the biblical significance of fish is that man has fallen into a chasm of sin and has to be redeemed. Overall, the catholic fish may be seen as a representation of Christianity as a whole.

The Meaning of the Fish in Celtic Mythology

Celtic Symbolism of Fish

To fully grasp what a fish represents to the ancient Celts, it’s necessary to appreciate these people’s value on all living things. Fecundity and vitality are associated with animals in Celtic and Welsh mythology. The fish, particularly the salmon, is a sign of wisdom.

As a part of Celtic mythology, the salmon represents esoteric knowledge, also giving the ability to predict the future, and this symbolism persists today.

In Celtic mythology, the rainbow salmon is a holy creature, and it is also a Celtic zodiac sign and the emblem animal of the year of the Hazel tree. Hazelnuts, another sign of intelligence, were said to give fish their knowledge in ancient Celtic tales.

The Salmon of Knowledge appears in one of the most important Irish myths. This fantastic fish was once a typical salmon until it consumed the hazelnuts from the Well of Wisdom and learned all there is to know.

By eating the fish that poet Finn Eces caught and fed to his servant Fionn son of Cumhail (the notorious Fianna leader, the renowned Irish heroes), young Fionn was endowed with infinite wisdom. Later on, Fionn was elevated to the position of leader of the Fianna tribe by their excellent knowledge.

The Fish as a Symbol in African Mythology


Fish in Historic African culture symbolizes fertility and creativity, with each new generation representing a new phase of existence. Mangala, the creation deity, features prominently in an ancient African tale.

According to Southern Mali folklore, mande creation mythology holds that Mangala sowed eleusine seeds in the cosmic womb. As a result of these seeds, Mangala gave birth to two fish, which she then released into the world.

The two-fish sign has excellent power in Africa, and You may find it as far back as ancient Egypt. Tilapia and Nile perch are of particular importance. As far back as antiquity, the Egyptians portrayed this fish as a rising sun in their bas-reliefs, which has stuck ever since.

As the females hid their young in their jaws in danger, tilapia was also linked with fertility and protection.

nile perch

The dark hues of the Nile perch, however, made it linked with the night. Because this vicious predator would devour members of its kind, it was revered as a representation of evil and oblivion.

Since one fish symbolizes the day and the other represents the night, they follow the sun’s boat. The fisherman emblem has an essential presence in Egyptian mythology as well. A guy who can catch both fish and master the day and night will be successful in his life.

Dreams of Fish

Do you know what it means when you dream about fish? One cannot fully understand the significance of the fish in your dream without considering how you are feeling in general. When you dream about fish, it’s generally a good omen; you need to go on with your life. Unless, of course, you’re having a dream about a dead fish…

The meaning of a dead fish in your dreams has something to do with terrible experiences you may have in the future.

Let’s find out what it means to have a fishing dream. Dreaming about fish indicates that you recognize your ideas, but you don’t give them much weight. Dreaming about a fish represents your emotions.

Catching fish

If you dream about catching fish, it represents success in real life, such as obtaining a promotion or marriage. It also implies that you will learn something new. Dreaming about fishing has a positive connotation since it represents prosperity and good fortune.

Eating fish in your dreams foretells an emotional setback, but generally, your outlook on life will be upbeat. Eating fish in a dream has a variety of connotations that vary by species.

Unexpected occurrences and feelings of unease are symbols of the dream state represented by fish leaping from the sea or ocean. When you dream about a large fish, it’s a sign that you’re fearful or concerned about something.

Fish Sightings and Prophetic Signs

The fish is associated with a slew of superstitions throughout the globe. People have a natural aversion to anything having to do with the sea or its inhabitants. The fear of the unknown is a constant source of anxiety and paranoia. The good news is that the alarming signals outnumber the positive ones.

Dreams explain the symbolic significance of fish. So, what does it imply when you dream about fishing? A lot depends on where you are and what the situation is.

Fish swimming in clear water is a sign of fresh success if it occurs in your dreams. People who are working in a career field can anticipate getting promoted or receive better offers. The presence of muck or filth in the water portends poor luck, sickness, or difficulty.

However, what does a drowned fish signify exactly? The significance of the dead fish is, in a way, double. The slow fish sign is associated with failure and loss, so if you see a dead fish in your dreams, don’t be depressed.

To see a dead fish in your dreams means you’ve lost a chance. Things will improve if you reevaluate your approach.

A lady dreaming about fish may be pregnant, which is a good thing. Having a fish dream means you’re pregnant, which was common among Welsh women.

If you dream about goldfish, this is a favorable sign. The goldfish represents wealth, plenty, and success in a symbolic way.

Folklore and Mythology of Fish

Group of little fishes under water

The fish serves as a powerful religious and cultural emblem across the board. The symbolic fish has been a recurring theme in ancient art since prehistoric times, inspiring people worldwide.

When it comes to literary allusions to fish, it’s important to remember that they frequently symbolize the same thing in the Bible: life. The fish represents the sign of life itself in Christian symbolism, which is Jesus Christ.

Even before the Christian ichthys, the pagan fish emblem meant life, but in a different way. Neopagans use the fish symbol to symbolize the womb or vagina of a woman.

The significance of the fish emblem is associated with femininity, sexuality, and childbearing. In Europe and other parts of the world, pagan civilizations recognized the Great Mother Goddess (alternative name for the fish) before the Christians acquired religious fish emblems.

For example, the Chinese deity Kwan-yin is portrayed as a fish, while the Hindu goddess Kali was referred to as the “fish-eyed one” in India. This Great Fish of the Abyss was given to Isis, the Egyptian goddess of wisdom and knowledge.

The catfish has symbolic meaning in Japanese mythology. Earthquake-bringer Namazu, a gigantic catfish, is a well-known character in Japanese folklore. On Fridays, the ancient Greeks honored the goddess Aphrodite by feasting on fish.

Fish Spirit Animal

Seeing a fish as a spirit animal is a sign of optimism and the ability to make wise choices.

The fish also carry the might of the ocean’s depths with them. With the fish spirit, you may access incredible psychic abilities and authority. This ability has been given to you by a spirit guide who wants you to utilize it.

Emotional healing is associated with fish as a tarot card’s spirit animal meaning. Do you have a shaky sense of well-being? You’ll learn how to achieve equilibrium from your spirit guide. You may wonder from time to time, “What do fish dreams mean?”

Your fish spirit animal is trying to guide you towards harmony and balance in your life, so take this as a sign. If your spirit animal points you that your objectives are too lofty, it may be time to reevaluate your priorities.

When the flying fish symbolism comes into play, it’s a big deal. Salmon may show up as a spirit guide when you’re feeling down and out.

Maybe you’re going through a particularly trying time, or perhaps you feel like your spiritual life could use some work. You’ll get insight, spirituality, and knowledge from its characteristics (8).

Fish Totem Animal

The fish totem symbolizes the enigmatic water element and connects us to it. To fully grasp fish symbolism, we must first grasp water’s significance.

Aegean mystery and human understanding have always been linked since ancient times. We never know what we’ll discover underneath the water’s surface.

The fish totem animal appears in our dreams, encouraging us to connect with our spiritual side. Our fish totem helps us through difficult times when we have dreams about fishing.

fish swimming in aquarium

When you have a dream about fish, your fish spirit guide will come and show you how to adjust to new situations swiftly.

If your totem animal is a giant fish species, make sure that the large fish symbolism is associated with the concept of growth and evolution. Your ancestor’s spirit advises you to have higher aspirations for yourself.

Totem animals may show up in dreams as fish, or they can cross your path in real life.

This totem symbolizes someone flexible and perceptive. You can increase riches and turn anything into gold. Fish people are known for their independence and will to succeed despite the odds being stacked against them.

Fish Power Animal

When you’re in a position to make a change, but you’re stuck, call on the power of your fish.

If you’re confused about the shift, invoke your inner power animal. It will provide you with the knowledge you need to understand it.

When you feel as if nothing is moving ahead in your life, you may use fish energy.

If you’re looking to amp up your intuition, try using fish medicine. For those stuck in toxic relationships or terrible environments, the Fish energy may help them break free and move on.

The fish spirit animal will encourage you to take the required measures to achieve your desires if you determine that peace and prosperity are your goals.

It also serves as a reminder that you may learn something valuable from it no matter what hardship you face.

Everything is attainable if you reestablish contact with your ancestral roots and recognize your origins. You’ll have a better sense of where you’re going with the assistance of the fish spirit animal.

As long as you make wise choices now, the future will be bright. That is the message of the fish power animal.

Meaning of Fish Tattoos

fish tattoo

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The patterns and vivid colors of fish tattoos make them popular with both sexes. The koi fish is the most well-known motif of these tattoos, which have roots in Japanese culture.

Ancient Japanese folklore describes how a fish named koi transformed into a dragon. This tattoo’s meaning and symbolism derive from this tale.

While the meaning of the koi fish tattoo design may vary depending on the color scheme, it’s often used as a symbol of persistence, bravery, and family.

People often get two fish tattoos to represent their zodiac sign, and the Pisces sign is one of such signs.

Polynesian fishing hooks are a popular tattoo motif. The fish hook represents plenty, prosperity, and unity, all of which are associated with the concept of abundance.

The skeleton of a fish is an intriguing tattoo design that is both unusual and fascinating. It’s no coincidence that the symbolism of the fish skeleton is connected to the biblical story of the loaves and fishes.

To sum it up, choosing this fish skeleton tattoo design means you’re aware of the significance of the warning not to take anything for granted. Only a tiny percentage of the population can connect to fishing symbols; therefore, there aren’t many fishing-related tattoos.

Meaning of Fish in Jewelry

The fish emblem appeared early in Christian history, and St. Clement of Alexandria recommended that Christians use a seal etched with a fish in the second century. People often utilized the Fish Sign to identify one another when they were afraid of persecution because they would scratch in the ground to make a portion of the symbol and then wait for confirmation from a Christian ‘friend’ by having the symbol completed.

Relief Fish Stainless Steel Ring

Relief Fish Stainless Steel Ring

fishbone ring

Fishbone Stainless Steel Ring

On the other hand, the Cross became a more prominent Christian symbol starting in the 4th century Ad, and the significance of the fish began to fade away.

Although specific Christian organizations have revived this Fish sign (Ichthys) in recent years, it is now widely recognized and utilized throughout the globe. This includes Christian Unions, Churches, and now most Church bodies. A Christian Fish used to bring good luck or salvation originates from people’s hearts and thoughts. In this instance, their religion is firmly backed up, as is the case with most symbols. However, like with other symbols, it’s probably the idea (or connection) that is essential.


The use of fish as a symbol is widespread across the world’s civilizations. Since it was a favorable omen, it was selected to represent wealth and good fortune. The fish’s connotation also includes motherhood, which is linked to fertility and femininity. For Christians, fishing has special significance because of its connection to Jesus Christ.


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