Dead Fish Dreams


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Photo by Hunter Trahan on Unsplash

I’m somewhere in charge of the aquariums, and the fish don’t make it. They are too large for the tank. There are too many of them. I try to tell someone (the supervisor?) as cichlids give up and float, half-decayed already, to the top of the tank.

I cannot remember when my dead fish dreams began, but there seems to be a repeating theme, perhaps once every three months or so.

It is true that I literally have not been successful keeping fish as pets. I have tried over the years and then thought when I had a kid, I would be better. First there was Bluey. Bluey was a beautiful betta who died within two weeks. Then we had a gorgeous tank of black mollies. They did not make it.

I have both a love of aquariums and a sense of guilt about them. Keeping fish in aquariums feels like keeping birds in cages. It isn’t natural. Maybe that is the lesson. Or maybe it’s something about guilt.

My first job, other than babysitting, was working at a pet store. Once a week, my job was to open the store and feed the fish. The fish room was magical. When I turned on the lights, rows of boxed glowing worlds mesmerized me. It was peaceful in there, but it also felt haunted.

One morning, I was up on the ladder with a net full of wriggling feeder fish. On the very top row of salt water fish lived a large grouper. I really did not enjoy feeding it. It was awkward opening the lid of its tank and getting the net of little goldfish in the water quickly. On this morning, the aggressive grouper leapt for its breakfast and managed to dive eight feet down to the concrete floor. I watched this horror show from the top of the ladder, feeder fish still in the net. This very overpriced pet lay gasping on the ground. I needed help, but I was the only one in the store. I somehow saved it, scooped it up, climbed back up the ladder, and dropped it back in its glowing box.

I never told anyone. I did not work there long enough to find out how long it survived.

Surely, this nightmare from my senior year in high school (class of 1992!) is not the reason for my dead fish dreams.

According to

To see dead fish in the tank means there may be things better left unsaid and actions are better left undone, but be careful for it may led to a situation that will not be beneficial for you or the people around you. If there are things that need to be changed or done, discuss it with the people around you.

Also, there may be dreams when you were able to notice different sizes of fish in a fish tank. This is connected to instability of your emotions and that you have kept to yourself.

This is interesting, Are there any dream interpreters out there? What do you think my dead fish dreams mean?

Samantha Lazar, 2020

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Poetry, fiction, and essays in celebration of being a Mom, Wife, Educator, Writer, & Lover of Life.

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