Water is the element in which fish live, so there may be a strong emotional factor in a dream about fish; fish can also represent unconscious insights, as the unconscious is often represented by the sea, the fish being ideas flitting through it. According to Jung, fish are symbols used in the dream to mimic impulses that suddenly dart out of the unconscious and which have a frightening or redeeming effect in waking life. In the realm of sleep, fish are considered harbingers of inspiration and creativity, so a fish or schools of fish glimpsed beneath the surface often represent unconscious material or truths hidden within yourself. To dream of a fish’s eye symbolizes a watchful and diligent nature, but to see a dead fish signifies a worry about the way you interact with others. Is your lack of emotional warmth turning you into a cold fish? If you dreamed of a fish leaping out of the ocean before returning to the waves or fish caught in the net and brought to the surface, this may indicate the brief emergence of intuition. If the fish are dirty, injured or ugly, this doesn’t mean that you are too; it just means the phase you’re currently in may be painful and tough. This is a time for patience and gentleness with yourself.
If fish are swimming just below the surface, they may represent the wisdom you have not yet brought to consciousness in waking life, whilst dead fish in your dream may suggest you have failed to express your basic urges or emotions. If, in your dream, the fish are in an aquarium, this may refer to aspects of your personality that are prevented from expressing themselves, or constricting emotional conditions in general. The dream may also refer to aspects of yourself that need to be nourished emotionally; a goldfish bowl may simply suggest boredom or a lack of privacy or confidentiality. If you dream of a fish that needs your care, it is likely that you are a creative, sensitive person who has become trapped in a lifestyle that inhibits self-expression. According to Freud, fish are a phallic symbol because of their elongated shape, and, because females spawn hundreds of eggs, he also associated them with fertility.
The symbol of Pisces in the Zodiac is a fish, and dream fish may perhaps be reminding you of a person you know born under that sign. The fish is also one of the oldest symbols of Christianity, so a dream of a fish, fishing or eating fish may also reflect your desire for spiritual nourishment. Fish may also appear in your dream as messengers telling you that something does not feel right, that something ’smells fishy’; alternatively, they may be telling you that you are feeling misplaced or you don’t belong, like a ’fish out of water’. A fish on a hook may suggest accepting something completely, without hesitation or question; but be attentive to what being a ’wet fish’ means.