Dead Fish Symbolism: A Journey Through Mythology and Truth in Various Cultures

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dead fish meaning

A fish has a direct connection with water. So the symbolism of water influences that of the fish. Have you ever come across a dead fish in the water or had a dead fish in your dream? Do you know what they symbolize? Fishes can have a wide range of meanings which are identified by the situation in which you see the fish. If you see the fish swimming in the water or attacking other fishes in your dreams, both these scenarios symbolize different meanings in your waking life. This article will help you understand the symbolic meaning of a dead fish and the various dead fish dream interpretations.

Do dead fish symbolize death? Dead fish are often found swimming in the water with their mouths open and dead fish symbolism is associated with the idea of “dragging oneself through life” and not trying to succeed or thrive. The dead fish meaning includes a variety of interpretations that have been floating around for centuries, but do they all hold up under scrutiny?

dead fish symbolism

What does a dead fish symbolize?

A fish has a direct connection with water. So the symbolism of water influences that of the fish. Fish, as we know it today, is one of the most important symbols in our universe. Physics researches space by studying and understanding how fish influence life on earth. Living near oceans or eating from them feeds us with nutrients that are essential for survival. Fish-eating cultures have a rich history that has helped shape cities around coastlines across every continent.

Dead fish have been found to symbolize: death, self-sabotage, lack of progress, missed opportunities, and avoidance among other things depending on if they are seen in your waking life or symbolic dreams.

dead fish on shore

Dead fish can also represent missed opportunities. If you had a good time at the party and didn’t meet anyone, it may be that an opportunity came your way but you were too busy to take advantage of it or weren’t prepared for what was asked. Perhaps think back on the conversation with someone from work who suddenly mentioned they might leave soon—perhaps this person has been thinking hard about getting out? Get in touch now before they go and profit greatly by giving them ideas as to where else they could look!

On another note, the symbol of a dead goldfish is often associated with success (check also our post: goldfish symbolism); while dreams involving dead fish are usually warnings not just against opportunities that have passed us by (which we should regretfully consider), but also warning ourselves against pitfalls that could lead to self-sabotage (read here more about the fish dream meaning).

dead fish saying

Biblical meaning of dead fish in a dream

Seeing a dead fish can mean many different things. It can indicate an end of the relationships or friendships, a person losing ties with God, or moments of difficult struggles in a person’s life. If you see a dead fish in a dream, it can be interpreted as a signal from God that you must pray and be close to God and not drift away from Him. Dead fish in dreams could also be interpreted as moments of difficult struggles that are seen when a person is struggling with their faith. Dead fishes can symbolize the struggle for survival and how you need to make it through your day, even if there are obstacles blocking your way.

Dead fishes in dreams can also be interpreted as moments of struggle and loss. Dead fish could signify that a person is experiencing losses or feeling like they are losing their grip on life because the dreamer feels overwhelmed with all of the different factors such as family, work, finances, etc.

dead fish dream meaning

Dead fish personality

A dead fish symbolism indicates someone who is extremely boring to be around. The metaphor is often used for people who cannot keep the conversations going. It can also indicate a person who doesn’t make efforts to change their circumstances and simply goes with the flow of life.

A dead fish personality can also represent someone who is reclusive and introverted. They may not be the type to go out often, or they could have a hard time making friends. Other interpretations include: feeling like there’s nothing left for them to live for; that they are losing hope; sadness over something lost; fear about their future prospects

The dead fish meaning can differ depending on how we interpret our own personal associations with this animal. For some people dead fish symbolize loneliness because it does swim by themselves, whereas others might see an unattractive creature swimming lazily in circles inside a tank- which would then signify depression. Alternatively, sometimes when dreaming of a dead fish, it might signify the end of something: either an era or an event.

dead fish on beach

The dead fish meaning could also be interpreted as someone who is just not alive enough to enjoy their life, but instead, they are living in some kind of dream world that leaves them feeling empty and stagnant. It can also represent being an outcast from society due to mental illness or addiction problems. Some people may experience this type of personality because they have lost interest in everything around them and feel like nothing will ever change for them.

Meaning in different cultures and mythologies

In Chinese culture, dead fish symbolism stands for a sign of bad luck. In the Philippines, Dead Fish Meaning is associated with death and mourning rituals that require people to dress according to their gender roles during life so they can meet God dressed appropriately. It’s also called “pag-uli” in Tagalog which means “to bring home”.

In Native American culture, a dead fish stands for a sign of bad luck and a warning. Dead Fish Symbolism in Hindu mythology means to represent the end of life as we know it or that someone has died.

In Japanese culture the Dead Fish Meaning stands for giving up on life, not caring anymore about what happens next, and when you have nothing left to lose. In this sense, this symbolism can also be seen as something without any meaning at all an existence that is empty and void with no purpose or meaning behind it (or lack thereof).

In Eastern Europe and Scandinavia, dead fish are considered to represent good luck in business. This is because they were a staple food for people living in coastal areas during hard times – when resources weren’t readily available it was important to catch as many fishes as possible and dry them out so that they could last longer over winter (when there were no fresh catches). There would always be enough dried fish to sell at markets come springtime, which meant profits increased due to hungry customers needing sustenance once again. Dead fishes often symbolized prosperity and wealth or things worth getting your teeth into!

dead fish dream

Dream of dead fish

This section will also give an overview of what it all could mean when seeing such a thing within your dreamscape – we’ll explore the origin of these symbols for dreamers who are curious about where they come from and why they appear so frequently in their dreams nowadays! Traditionally, there were two main reasons worth noting:

The first reason was that some psychologists felt that dreaming about dead fish symbolized the loss of a loved one.

The second reason was that Dead Fish often appeared in dreams when someone felt stuck in their life and needed to make some significant changes, or if they were experiencing extreme stress.

There are various types of dead fish dreams that you can have. They can have positive as well as negative meanings depending upon the circumstances of a dead fish that you see in your dreams. Here are the different interpretations of a dead fish:

dead red fish

Dreaming of seeing a dead fish

If a live fish represents success and prosperity in life, a dead fish symbolizes the opposite. It means that you have missed or you are about to miss a great opportunity in your life that you are going to regret. If you have already missed it, you must reflect on your mistakes and attitude that may have resulted in the opportunity slipping away from your hand. If you think that you still have time, you should reconsider your attitude and the way you see things to not let that happen again.

(But then again dreaming about a dead fish is not always bad. It can be an omen of warning, or even symbolize the fish has been caught and cooked for dinner)

Different people and cultures have different interpretations of what this symbol means when you dream about it surfing the waves within your subconsciousness. The Dead Fish as a sign is interpreted to represent: death, bad luck, stagnation in life, or lack of progress towards goals. But there are other interesting meanings that we’ll explore below!

Dead fish symbolism can be seen in dreams because they may represent spiritual growth for the individual – they signify change and transformation at an emotional level which will manifest externally too- but only if one has been stagnant for some time already; otherwise dead fish might just mean inertia on all levels. Some say that the dead fish meaning could also be related to feeling empty inside after experiencing loss such as the death of a loved one or the feeling that life has lost its meaning.

The dead fish can be also seen as an omen can also be seen in dreams because it could represent an impending danger to come for those who have been neglecting their health and are going through some personal challenges, or they might feel very vulnerable emotionally due to changes in relationships with family members (parents). When it comes to dream of dead fish, see also our post “fish dream meaning”.

Meaning of dreaming of fishing for a dead fish

If you see yourself fishing for a dead fish, it means that the efforts you are putting in achieving your goals will go in vain or that your purpose is not benefitting your life in any manner.

Some people believe that the dead fish has a symbolic meaning which is related to something being dormant and not living.

Others say if you are fishing for this type of fish, it could signify the need to change your approach towards life since things will never go as planned.

In some cases, when someone dreams about fishing for a dead fish, they might be experiencing feelings of hopelessness or depression following an event that impacted them greatly such as a death in their family. Other interpretations on Dead Fish Meaning include:

– The Dead fish symbolizes old beliefs or prejudices from childhood that have been handed down through generations;

Dreaming of catching a dead fish

Catching a dead fish in your dreams can indicate the upcoming difficulties in your life that you won’t be able to overcome. You can be caught in situations where you won’t find a way to escape. Dead fish could also symbolize a lack of motivation or success in your life. Dead fish can be seen as dead weight that is holding you back, preventing you from moving forward with the rest of your life.

In cultures all over the globe, there are many different interpretations for this strange dream image and its meaning varies depending on where it originates from. It has been suggested that these dreams may have come about by way of archetypes stemming from ancient man’s fear or fascination with death given how prevalent they were throughout history when humans used to hunt their own food – leading them to see themselves as top predators until famine struck and lowered them down into prey status (or at least made some more vulnerable than others). Dead fish may also be a personification of our own mortality; the fact that we will all die.

Dreaming of a dead fish frequently

If you dream of a dead fish repeatedly, it may symbolize the series of great opportunities that you have missed or will miss. The best way to overcome this is to be a little more careful about your choices and decisions.

If you see dead fish during your dream it may also represent regret over missed opportunities or desired outcomes that will never happen. Dead fishes are often associated with personal feelings such as disappointment, rejection, loneliness, isolation, or separation from family members.

sending a dead fish

What does it mean when you get sent a dead fish?

Dead fish symbolism is a storied tradition of sending someone an unwanted gift, or sometimes as a joke.

Dead fish can symbolize many different things in many cultures – some say it means the person you are giving it to has no feelings for you and others take away that they have poisoned your food with mercury.

A “dead fish on a doorstep” is not just anything. It’s usually considered the sign of bad things to come or as an act of warning, depending on what happened near-recently and who did it (if they were caught).

If you’re lucky, someone played a silly prank by leaving one there – but if that doesn’t seem likely then consider any other implications before coming up with too many conclusions. If nothing seems right about this situation so far, ask yourself: What have I done wrong lately? Whether purposely or accidentally? And how can I fix these mistakes now without causing more harm down the line?

The powerful Sicilian mafia allegedly used to warn people that if they did not stop what they were doing or leave town, the Mafia would “sleep with the fishes” by kidnapping them, torturing them, and murdering their bodies. But this practice has long been abandoned due to its cruelty. Some think it means “to sleep with a dead fish.” The stench of decomposing flesh is so bad; you’ll have trouble getting rid of it on your porch for weeks afterward! It’s an intimidation tactic intended to make someone powerless in fear.

So, summarising here: sending a dead fish can mean that the person to whom the fish is being sent, could be killed soon and that he cannot escape his approaching death. There is a saying that he will sleep with the fishes. This also means marking you as a dead person. Hopefully, it’s only been a prank though!


Fishes are a symbol of prosperity and success in life but dead fishes mean exactly the opposite. A dead fish is a symbol of disappointments, missed opportunities, wrong decisions, and negative things coming in your future. Overall, a dead fish has only a negative meaning. If someone refers to a person as a dead fish, it means that the person is too boring and is a complete waste of time to be around. If you send a dead fish to someone, it means that the person to whom the fish is being sent could be dead soon.

Also, check out the octopus symbolism (even though it’s not 100% a fish but an invertebrate). Or also something dead you might come across in your backyard or in the city you live in: dead rat meaning OR the big list of dead animals including their spiritual symbolism.


What does a dead fish symbolize?

Dead fish have been found to symbolize: death, self-sabotage, lack of progress, missed opportunities, and avoidance among other things depending on if they are seen in your waking life or symbolic dreams.

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Author: Bryan Samoy
Bryan, an expert in spiritual symbolism and animal totems, conducts research on symbolic traditions worldwide. Contributions on our blog from Quezon City, Philippines.

8 thoughts on “Dead Fish Symbolism: A Journey Through Mythology and Truth in Various Cultures”

  1. I had a very alarming dream of dead fish. I was beside a lake when suddenly I was given the ability to view a cross-section of the entire lake. The lake had NO life in it at all. NO grasses or fish swimming around. On the bottom of the lake were uniform rows and rows of dead fish. Big fish, small fish, all grey, laying in neat rows on the floor of the lake as far as I could see. When I awoke, I felt peaceful–just pensive. I’ve been seeking some insight. I feel it is prophetic and pertains to this nation. I am also seeking personal understanding. The fish were not randomly piled they were carefully placed in deliberate rows like bodies lined up after a disaster. Thank you for your article. If you have any insights, I’m open to hearing them. Thank you

    • Dear Marji,

      I’m sorry to hear about your alarming dream of dead fish. Your description of the lake with no life in it is haunting. The image of the dead fish lying in neat rows on the floor of the lake is particularly striking. It’s understandable that you feel the dream is prophetic and pertains to your nation, as well as seeking personal understanding.

      I appreciate your openness to hearing insights, and I hope my article on dead fish has provided some perspective. It’s important to remember that dreams can be symbolic and open to interpretation. While there may be cultural or mythological meanings associated with dead fish, ultimately the interpretation of your dream depends on your personal experiences and feelings.

      I encourage you to explore your emotions and thoughts surrounding the dream. Perhaps there are aspects of your life or the world around you that feel stagnant or lifeless, and the dream is a reflection of that. Regardless of the specific meaning, it’s clear that the dream has left a strong impression on you.

      Thank you for sharing your experience, and I wish you peace and clarity as you seek understanding.

  2. Hi, I was at the beach today and of all the places I chose to sit down, I didn’t realise until later but there was a dead fish under the sand next to me, I had been eating an orange and placing the peels right where the fish was without knowing, I had thought I could smell fish but didn’t know where it was coming from. I went to swim in sea and when I came back the sand had blown away to reveal the dead fish by my orange peels. What could this mean?

    • Hey Sophia, thanks for commenting!
      The presence of a dead fish could be seen as a sign for self-reflection and growth. It might be suggesting that you pay more attention to your surroundings and the opportunities that life presents to you. The fact that you were eating an orange, a fruit often associated with vitality and health, could symbolize that you have the energy and potential to seize these opportunities. So, don’t worry too much about the dead fish. Instead, use this as a reminder to stay alert and open to new possibilities in your life.

  3. Hello, thank you for the insightful notes on this matter.
    I found your article and I wanted to share with you the experience of my 9 years old daughter dream about two fishes, one inside the house and one outside the house. She saw me and my father trying to catch the fish outside but not catching it because it had like needles in its skin and could ne caught. Then she saw me and my father entering in the house followed by a cat which hided itself in the kitchen. From all of the people in the house I was the only one who went to check on the cat and I screamed because I found it dead(drown under water falling in the kitchen)
    I was shocked about this dream..I would really appreciate having your insights, experiences or knowledge about the symbols in this dream

    • Hey GM, talking with your daughter about the dream in a gentle, supportive way can be very beneficial. The dream may be reflecting her feelings or experiences in her waking life. Sometimes, discussing these dreams can help children process their emotions or concerns. Also, consider the personal symbols and events in your family’s life, as these can greatly influence the content and meaning of dreams. While general interpretations can be insightful, the most accurate understanding often comes from personal context and feelings.

      I hope this perspective helps in understanding your daughter’s dream more deeply. Remember, ensuring she feels heard and supported is the most important aspect.


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