Fish Tail

Phobia Week Keeps Going With Ichthyophobia

Just keep swimming! So many tales and movies take place underwater. Some pleasurable, some suspenseful and there’s James.

Sleep With The Fishes

Alright, Biters, the Gothic Bite Magazine, is doing a phobia week. So, I have a bit of an odd one for you. It’s called ichthyophobia, and it is the fear of fish.

For as long as I can remember, I have had a crippling fear of just about anything, which called the water home. Although I’m a good sport about it, this has led to endless jokes and teasing from friends and family alike.

Piranha Fish
Piranha Fish

It’s been said people fear what they don’t understand. Well, I have never been able to explain why I’m so scared of sealife. So, Biters, let’s get a little self-therapeutic and dive into my deepest fears.

Fishermen Friends

My fear is humorously paradoxical. Some readers may remember that in another article, I said my family was one of fishermen. My grandfather and uncle ran a crab shop.

Koi Fish
Koi Fish

They had the whole nine yards! A house on the water with a pier complete with nautical decor, a crab boat, and they even made their own crab pots. Not for me.

Moreover, my maternal aunt and uncle decorated their house with a beach theme. On the bright side, that uncle mainly just collects lighthouses.

When it comes to their neighbor, who I grew up with, she had her basement full of Popeye memorabilia.

However, I love The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Just like I do, Popeye. Two of my top ten Walt Disney songs are Under The Sea and Poor Unfortunate Souls.

As I said humorously, paradoxically, I’m all but bound to the sea but scared of just about everything that calls it home.

In Need Of A Bigger Boat?

As mentioned before, I’ve never been able to explain why fish scare me. I probably never will. But our favorite OCD Vampire had an answer that’s as good as any. It made sense to me.

Lion FIsh
Lion FIsh

“Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living… until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then…ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'”


It’s the soulless black eyes—the blank, expressionless stare. I watch Sponge Bob Square Pants, and Finding Nemo and I’m fine. Well, except for that scene with the anglerfish. Because I guess there is something almost human to there design.

Scuba Fish
Scuba Fish

But show me a picture in a textbook, and I’m gone. While the whole face thing is a good start. I think it runs more profound than that.

The scene from Kill Bill Vol. 2 comes to mind where Bill is talking about BB’s pet fish. She freaked out after taking him out of the bowl, and he started flapping.


Now for the fun part, how do I deal with my fear? For me, it’s avoidance, humor, or reasoning if all else fails.

On our family’s second trip to Walt Disney World, we decided to spend one day away from the mouse and hit Universal Studios or SeaWorld.


Do you wish to guess where we landed? That’s right, Biters. I spent a day in hell. I was outvoted. But the last laugh was mine.

Although we all had a good time at the park. It fell short, balancing expectations versus the cost. I also found it hilarious when my stepdad became the ground zero bullseyes for Shamu’s splashes. Meanwhile, I was in the upper stands high and dry.


This time, it was a family trip to Tennessee. They wanted to go to this giant aquarium in Gatlinburg. No surprise, I opted out even with comments like, “You don’t know what you’re missing!” to which I replied with, “Yes, I do. You have fun. I’m hitting the Hollywood Car Museum.”

Lion FIsh
Lion FIsh

A few years later, when we went back with my New York relatives, they added a penguin exhibit. As much as I would’ve loved to see the birds, I knew they would be hidden in the back. I would’ve had to go through all the fish. Sorry, not happening.

So, back to the car museum, I went. They got to enjoy the fish. I walked away with one of my favorite souvenirs from the trip. It was a picture in Adam West‘s Batmobile. All thanks to avoiding my fear.


While my avoidance method worked out at that time, it’s not always the right method. On that same trip, my sister wanted to go white water rafting. This is one of those once in a lifetime things. I would’ve kicked myself for not doing it.

I figured if the current and jagged rock makes it dangerous if I fall in, it is ten times worse for a fish swimming there. The logic didn’t have to be true. It just had to be enough to get me in the raft.

Aquarium Fish
Aquarium Fish

My entire family and friends know about my ichthyophobia. So, when they tried to sell the picture at the very end, I had to have it. I asked my stepdad to buy it so people not present could believe I did it.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over my fear because it runs so deep that writing this article has helped a bit. So, thanks to the Gothic Bite Magazine for suggesting Phobia Week.


To the Biters out there who feel insecure about irrational fear read this: If you think your fear is silly or unreasonable, just remember there’s a guy out there so scared of fish, that he can’t even read his own article.

James Vaughan

2 thoughts on “Phobia Week Keeps Going With Ichthyophobia

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