What Does Fish Symbolize? Exploring the Significance of this Aquatic Creature

Fish is more than just a slimy, aquatic creature we catch and eat for dinner. It has an incredibly rich symbolic history across a variety of cultures and religions. Whether you believe in astrology, mythology, or the Bible, fish is one of the most fascinating symbols out there. It represents everything from abundance and fertility to intelligence and transformation – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In this article, we’re exploring the many meanings of fish symbolism, so get ready to dive deep into the ocean of knowledge.

From the ancient Egyptians who worshipped the Nile’s bounty of fish to the Norse mythology that tells of a world serpent that resides in the sea, fish has been an integral part of our history and culture. It’s also been a potent symbol of rebirth and the female fertility goddess, which is why early Christians used it as a sign of the Resurrection and new life. The Greek word for fish is also an acronym that spells out the phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior,” making it a powerful statement of faith and belief.

While fish symbolism is abundant in mythology and religion, it also has a significant place in art and literature. Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” centers around an epic battle between a fisherman and a giant marlin, with the fish serving as a metaphor for the nobility of the human spirit. Whether you’re reading or viewing a piece of art or diving into various cultures and religions, fish symbolism is everywhere, and its meaning is as rich and varied as the depths of the ocean itself.

Fish Symbolism in Different Cultures

Fish is one of the most common symbols found in various cultures across the world. It’s imprinted on traditional clothing, painted on walls, made into sculptures, and even referenced in literature and religious texts. The meanings attributed to a fish vary from culture to culture, and in this article, we’ll explore the fish symbolism in different cultures.

1. Christianity

In Christianity, the fish is a significant symbol used in the early Christian era as a secret code. It was a way for Christians to identify each other without fear of persecution. The fish symbol represents Jesus Christ, and its association with Christianity comes from the Greek word for fish, “ichthus,” which also stands for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”

The fish symbol is featured in art, jewelry, and architecture in churches and cathedrals. It’s also commonly used as a bumper sticker in modern times.

2. Chinese Culture

  • In Chinese culture, the fish symbolizes abundance and prosperity. It’s associated with the Chinese New Year, where it’s customary to serve fish as a symbol of good luck, success, and prosperity.
  • Additionally, the fish represents harmony and unity in marriage. It’s often gifted to couples on their wedding day as a symbol of the couple’s desire to maintain a harmonious and long-lasting relationship.
  • The image of fish swimming in pairs also symbolizes happiness in family life and is often depicted in Chinese art and literature.

3. Native American Culture

In Native American culture, the fish appears in legends, art, dance, and music. The fish is believed to represent strength, determination, and good luck. It’s often used as a healing symbol and is believed to possess special powers to cure some illnesses.

For some Native American tribes, the fish represents the power of creation, the ability to bring about life, and provide sustenance. It’s often depicted as a sacred animal and is an important part of their spiritual traditions.

4. Japanese Culture

In Japanese culture, the fish is a symbol of good fortune and wealth. It’s believed that keeping a fish in the home can bring good luck, prosperity, and longevity. The koi fish is especially significant in Japan and represents perseverance, strength, and success. The Japanese also celebrate the tradition of “koi-nobori,” where carp-shaped streamers in different colors and sizes are hung to decorate homes and public spaces, signaling the arrival of spring and the new beginnings it brings.

Koi Fish ColorMeaning
RedLove, strength, and bravery
BlackSuccess in business and career
BlueSpirituality and calmness

The fish symbolizes different things across different cultures, but it’s clear that the fish has been a significant symbol of meaning for centuries. Whether it’s used as a religious symbol or a symbol of good fortune, the fish is a reminder of the interconnection and importance of nature and its symbolism in our lives.

Meanings of Fish Tattoos

Fish tattoos have been a popular design for many years, with different cultures imbuing the symbol with various meanings. Whether you’re interested in tattoos with religious, cultural, or personal symbolism, a fish tattoo might be the perfect choice for you. In this article, we’ll explore the different meanings of fish tattoos, including the spiritual and emotional significance that has made them so popular.

Subsection 2: Types of Fish Tattoos

  • Tattoos of brightly colored exotic fish can represent a love of adventure or a desire to explore the unfamiliar.
  • Koi fish tattoos are particularly popular in Japanese culture, where the fish is a symbol of perseverance and strength. These tattoos may be embellished with water or other natural elements to enhance the design and add additional symbolism.
  • Shark tattoos are popular with those who appreciate the aggressive and predatory nature of these creatures. These tattoos often depict the shark in motion, as if attacking its prey.

The meaning of fish tattoos can be highly personal, and many people choose to get a tattoo of a specific type of fish that holds special significance for them. Whether you choose a brightly colored exotic fish, a koi fish, or a shark, your fish tattoo is sure to be a unique expression of your personality and values.

Importance of Fish in Christianity

Throughout the Bible, fish carry a significant meaning in Christianity. From the story of Jonah and his journey in the belly of a fish to Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5000 with just two fish and five loaves of bread, fish symbolize many important spiritual principles in Christianity.

  • Abundance and Multiplication: In the Bible, fish are often used to illustrate the abundance and multiplication that comes with faith. In the story of the feeding of the 5000, Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread and multiplied them to feed a multitude of people. This miracle shows us that when we trust in God, he can take what little we have and make it stretch beyond what we could ever imagine.
  • Purity and Innocence: Fish are also often used to represent purity and innocence. In the early days of Christianity, the fish was a secret symbol used by Christians to identify themselves to each other without drawing attention from Roman authorities. This is because the fish was a symbol of Jesus, who was pure and innocent and lived his life free from sin.
  • The Trinity: The number three is significant in Christianity, representing the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the story of Jonah, he was in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights before being spit out on the shore. This story is often seen as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ death and resurrection, as he was in the tomb for three days before rising again. The significance of the number three and the fish in both of these stories illustrate the power and importance of the Holy Trinity within Christianity.

Furthermore, fish carry a rich history within Christianity and are often depicted in Christian art and imagery. In fact, the fish is one of the earliest symbols of Christianity, used by the early Christians as a way to identify themselves to one another. The fish can be found in ancient Christian catacombs, graves, and even etched onto walls in churches and basilicas.

IchthysThe Greek word for fish, and one of the earliest Christian symbols used to denote the early church and its beliefs.
Jesus FishA more modern symbol based on the Ichthys, used to represent Jesus Christ as the “fisher of men.”
Golden FishAnother symbol found in Christian art, often used to represent the abundance and multiplication seen in the feeding of the 5000 story.

Overall, fish symbolize many important spiritual principles in Christianity, from abundance and multiplication to purity and innocence, and even the Holy Trinity itself, making them a significant symbol in Christian history and art.

Fish in Ancient Mythology and Legends

Fish has been a symbol in mythology and legends since the earliest times. The ancient Egyptians believed that fish symbolized fertility, while the Greeks associated fish with Poseidon, the god of the sea. In Christianity, fish was used as a symbol of Christ, and the story of the loaves and fishes plays a prominent role in the Bible.

  • In Hindu mythology, fish is associated with the god Vishnu. In one of his avatars, Vishnu takes the form of a fish named Matsya to save the world from a deluge.
  • The ancient Japanese believed that fish symbolized fertility, happiness, harmony, and good luck. Koi fish, in particular, were revered and seen as a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity.
  • In Native American mythology, fish is the totem animal of the Salmon and plays a crucial role in their creation myths. According to the Haida tribe of the Pacific Northwest, Raven created the first humans from fish and helped them survive the harsh environment.

The symbolism of fish is not limited to mythology. In Chinese culture, fish is believed to bring wealth and prosperity. It is common to keep live fish in a home or office as a symbol of good luck. In feng shui, a painting or statue of fish is said to promote abundance and success.

Interestingly, the number 4 is often associated with fish symbolism in Asian cultures. In Chinese culture, the word for fish (鱼) sounds like the word for abundance (余), making fish a popular symbol for prosperity and wealth. The number 4, in turn, is considered unlucky because it sounds like the word for death (死). However, when four fish are shown together, they become a symbol of abundance and prosperity, overcoming the ill effects of the number 4.

Number of FishSymbolism
1Unity, independence
2Harmony, balance
3Abundance, prosperity, happiness
4Overcoming bad luck, prosperity
5+Wealth, prosperity, success

Overall, fish symbolism is rich and varied, with different meanings and associations depending on the culture and context. From mythology to feng shui, fish continue to be a potent symbol of abundance, fertility, harmony, and success.

Fish as a Symbol of Fertility

Many cultures around the world consider fish as a symbol of fertility. This is due to various reasons such as the biological nature of fish to reproduce abundantly and their association with water, which is a symbol of life, birth, and creation. Here, we will talk about the significance of fish as a symbol of fertility and how it is interpreted in different cultures and beliefs.

  • Biblical Significance: In Christianity, fish are considered a symbol of fertility and abundance. The association of fish with fertility stems from the biblical story of Jesus feeding a multitude of people with just two fish. This story portrays the abundance and fertility that fish can provide.
  • Cultural Significance: In many cultures, fish are a symbol of fertility and prosperity. In Japan, koi fish are a popular symbol of prosperity, good luck, and abundance. The ancient Romans also associated fish with fertility and abundance, and during their feasts, fish was considered a delicacy and a sign of wealth and abundance.
  • Symbolic Significance: Fish are also a symbol of fertility in terms of their prolific reproduction. Fish reproduce in large numbers, and this symbolism translates to fertility and productivity in other aspects of life. For example, some cultures believe that eating fish can enhance fertility and encourage the birth of healthy children.

Overall, the fish is a powerful symbol of fertility that represents abundance, prosperity, and productivity. Its association with water further reinforces the symbolic significance of fish as a sign of birth, creation, and renewal.

Below is a table that highlights some of the different interpretations and meanings associated with fish as a symbol of fertility.

AbundanceThe ability to provide and sustain oneself through plentiful resources.
ProsperityThe ability to flourish and thrive in one’s endeavors.
FertilityThe ability to reproduce and give birth to healthy offspring.
CreativityThe ability to generate new ideas and innovations.
RenewalThe ability to regenerate and revitalize one’s life and surroundings.

Overall, the symbolism of fish as a symbol of fertility is an integral part of many cultures and beliefs. Its association with abundance, prosperity, and productivity makes it a powerful symbol that brings good fortune to those who embrace it.

Fish Symbolism in Native American Culture

Fish symbolism holds great significance in many cultures, including Native American. Native American culture is deeply connected to nature and the animals they lived alongside. Fish, as an animal that played a crucial role in their lives, was often revered and symbolized important concepts and values.

The Number 6

In some Native American cultures, the number 6 holds great significance in relation to fish symbolism. The Chinook Indians, for example, have a story that explains how fish were granted six ceremonial privileges, and the possession of these privileges made them sacred. These privileges included:

  • The privilege of being cut up for food
  • The privilege of having their bones carefully and ceremoniously buried
  • The privilege of seeing small children playing on the beach
  • The privilege of being able to glide along in silence beneath the surface of the water
  • The privilege of rising to the surface to take the goodly salmon berries that had fallen into the water of their own accord
  • The privilege of being allowed to drift at will through the shining water of the river they loved so well

The number six was also significant for other reasons. In the Cherokee creation story, the First Man and First Woman were gifted with six fish, which became the ancestors of all fish. In the Creek tribe, the number six represented health and vitality, which was associated with their reliance on fish as a source of sustenance. In many Native American tribes, repetition of the number six was seen as a way of showing respect to fish and their importance in their communities.

The significance of the number six in relation to fish symbolism in Native American culture is a testament to the deep respect that these cultures had for nature and the animals within it. Fish played a crucial role in their lives, and their symbolism reflected this importance.

The Significance of Fish in Feng Shui

In Feng Shui, the fish symbolize wealth, abundance, and good luck. One of the most popular Feng Shui symbols is the Arowana fish, also known as the Dragon fish, which is believed to bring good luck and prosperity to the owner. Fish are often used in paintings, sculptures, and other decorative objects that are placed in homes or businesses to attract positive energy and good fortune.

  • The Number 7: The number seven is highly significant in Feng Shui as it is believed to be a lucky number that brings good fortune and attracts positive energy. In the context of fish, the number seven is associated with the Black Arowana, which is believed to symbolize good luck, wealth, and prosperity. According to Feng Shui principles, placing seven Black Arowanas in a tank or pond will bring immense wealth and abundance to the owner.
  • The Direction of the Fish: The direction in which the fish swim is also significant in Feng Shui. For instance, fish that swim against the current are believed to bring good luck, while those that swim with the current are considered to be unlucky. Similarly, fish that swim towards the main entrance of a house or business are believed to bring wealth and prosperity to the occupants.
  • The Color of the Fish: Colors are also significant in Feng Shui, and different colors are believed to represent different elements and energies. The most commonly used fish colors in Feng Shui are red, gold, and black. A red or gold-colored fish is believed to bring wealth and prosperity, while a black-colored fish is believed to ward off negative energy and bring good luck.

Feng Shui practitioners often recommend placing a fish tank or pond in the southeast corner of a room or premises as this area is believed to represent wealth and prosperity. It is also recommended to avoid placing a fish tank in areas such as the bedroom, kitchen or toilet as these areas are believed to bring bad luck if the fish dies.

Overall, fish are a popular and powerful symbol in Feng Shui. By decorating your home or business with fish or placing a fish tank or pond in the right location, you may attract wealth, abundance, and prosperity into your life.

RedWealth and prosperity
GoldWealth and prosperity
BlackWard off negative energy and bring good luck

Remember to take good care of your fish as the health and well-being of your fish is believed to directly impact the energy and luck in your life. So, keep your fish tank or pond clean and well-maintained to ensure that your fish can continue to bring good fortune and prosperity to your home or business.

Fish Symbolism in Heraldry

Fish symbolism has been used in heraldry for centuries. In heraldry, fish are often depicted with scale-like patterns on their bodies and are shown swimming horizontally. The fish has been used in heraldry to symbolize a variety of meanings, including fertility, wisdom, courage, and perseverance. One of the most interesting fish symbols in heraldry is the number 8.

The Number 8

  • The number 8 is a significant symbol in many cultures and belief systems.
  • In Christianity, 8 represents new beginnings, as the eighth day was the day of Christ’s resurrection.
  • In Chinese culture, 8 is considered lucky, as it sounds similar to the word for prosperity.
  • In Hinduism, 8 represents potential, as there are eight forms of wealth in the Vedas.
  • In heraldry, the fish symbol can represent the number 8, or two fish placed horizontally to form an 8-shape.

The number 8 is often associated with abundance, success, and good fortune. In heraldry, the fish symbol with the number 8 can represent a family’s prosperity, financial success in business ventures, or a person’s quest for wealth. The 8-shape formed by two fish can also represent the cyclical nature of life and the universe, or the endless nature of time.

Heraldic depictions of fish with the number 8 can vary in design and color, depending on the family or individual’s preference. The fish may be drawn with a variety of scales, fins, or tails, and may be depicted in various positions, such as jumping out of the water or swimming through waves. The colors used in the design may also have significance, such as gold for wealth or green for fertility.


In heraldry, the fish symbol is a fascinating motif with a rich history and symbolism. The number 8 is just one way in which the fish symbol can be interpreted, representing abundance, prosperity, and good fortune. Whether used in family crests, coats of arms, or personal emblems, the fish symbol with the number 8 is a powerful and meaningful image that has endured through the ages.

FertilityAbundance and new beginnings
WisdomKnowledge and understanding
CourageStrength and bravery
PerseverancePersistence and determination
ProsperityWealth and success

The symbolism of fish in heraldry is diverse and complex, representing a range of meanings and interpretations. From fertility and wisdom to courage and prosperity, the fish symbol has endured through the ages as a powerful and meaningful image.

Fish Representations in Literature: Number 9

The number 9 is often used in literature to represent completeness or finality. In biblical stories, Jesus performed 9 miracles on the Sabbath day, signifying the end of a cycle. The representation of the number 9 in relation to fish can be seen in the nine fish that were caught by Simon Peter in the Gospel of John. This catch of fish marked the end of Peter’s life as a fisherman and the beginning of his life as a disciple of Jesus. It can be interpreted as a symbol of completion and the start of a new chapter.

The use of the number 9 in literature is not limited to biblical stories. In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, the whale is hunted for 9 chapters before the final encounter. This use of the number 9 indicates the culmination of the characters’ efforts and the completion of the story.

Furthermore, the number 9 in literature can also be associated with the idea of perfection. In Julio Cortázar’s short story “Axolotl,” the narrator becomes obsessed with the strange creatures known as axolotls and begins to identify with them. At one point, the narrator describes the axolotls as having “perfect forms.” The use of the number 9 in this context can be seen as an indication of the creatures’ perfection and completeness.

Fish Representations in Literature: Symbolism and Meaning

  • The fish can represent fertility and abundance.
  • The fish can symbolize transformation and rebirth.
  • In Christianity, the fish can represent faith and salvation.
  • The fish can be used as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom.
  • The fish can represent the power of the subconscious mind.

Fish Representations in Literature: Examples

In Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, the protagonist catches a giant marlin after an exhausting battle at sea. The fish is seen as a symbol of the man’s own struggle and ultimate triumph over life’s challenges.

In J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, the mermaids are portrayed as beautiful but dangerous creatures. Their fish-like tails are a metaphor for their mysterious and alluring nature.

Fish Representations in Literature: Table of Symbolism

FertilityAbundance, growth
TransformationDeath and rebirth, renewal
ChristianitySalvation, faith
KnowledgeWisdom, intelligence
Subconscious mindPower, intuition

Overall, the use of fish symbolism in literature is multifaceted and can represent a variety of ideas and concepts. From completion and perfection to transformation and rebirth, the fish has played an important role in literature throughout history.

The Role of Fish in Dream Interpretation: Number 10

When it comes to dream interpretation, the number 10 is significant when fish are present. The number 10 symbolizes completeness and wholeness, which can suggest that achieving a certain goal or reaching a certain milestone is within reach. This can be a positive and encouraging message to receive in a dream.

  • If you dream of catching 10 fish, it could symbolize that you are about to achieve a major goal in your waking life.
  • Dreaming of swimming with a school of 10 fish could represent a sense of community and belonging, or indicate that you are on the right path towards achieving a collective goal.
  • Seeing a fish with the number 10 on its side could be a sign of abundance and prosperity, urging you to trust in the abundance available to you in your waking life.

Of course, it’s important to remember that dream interpretation is a highly personal and subjective process. The meaning behind fish and the number 10 in your dreams may differ from someone else’s. It’s also essential to keep in mind the context and emotions you experienced in your dream when analyzing the symbolism.

Nevertheless, the number 10 is a powerful symbol in general, and when paired with fish in a dream, it could suggest that your goals and aspirations are within reach. Take comfort in the idea that you are on the right path and keep pushing forward towards your goals.

10 FishAchievement of a major goal
School of 10 FishSense of community and collective goals
Fish with the number 10 on its sideAbundance and prosperity

In conclusion, fish symbolism in dreams can be interpreted in various ways, and the number 10 holds a significant meaning in dream interpretation with fish. By understanding the symbolism and being in tune with your emotions and experiences in the dream, you can begin to uncover the hidden messages and take action in your waking life. Remember that your dreams can serve as a valuable tool in gaining insight and understanding into your inner self – listen to them carefully.

What Does Fish Symbolize: FAQs

1) What is the spiritual meaning of fish?

Fish have a spiritual meaning of abundance, prosperity and healing. It represents the energy of both water and sea, bringing great symbolic power.

2) What does a fish symbolize in Christianity?

Fish is the symbol of Christianity as it represents the miracle of the loaves and fishes, where Jesus fed a multitude with just a few fish.

3) What does a fish symbolize in Chinese culture?

In Chinese culture, fish symbolize good luck, fortune, and prosperity. They believe that having a fish in your household will bring you abundance and wealth.

4) What does a fish tattoo symbolize?

A fish tattoo can symbolize anything from strength and independence to perseverance and determination. It can also represent adaptability and transformation.

5) What does the fish symbolize in Native American culture?

In Native American culture, fish are connected to the element of water and represent transformation, fertility, and harmony. They are also seen as a source of food and medicine.

6) What does a koi fish symbolize?

Koi fish are associated with good luck, perseverance, and determination. They are also seen as a symbol of love and friendship.

7) What does a dead fish symbolize?

A dead fish is often a symbol of disappointment or failure. It can represent the end of a cycle or a warning to stay away from danger.

A Closing Note on What Fish Symbolizes

Thank you for taking the time to learn about what fish symbolizes across different cultures and contexts. From Christianity to Chinese culture, fish holds a variety of meanings that are worth exploring. Whether you are looking for spiritual guidance or a new tattoo design, fish symbolism can offer insight and inspiration. We hope you visit again soon!