Fish appeared as decoration on Chinese ceramics as early as the Neolithic period, and have remained a popular theme in Chinese art, especially ceramics and paintings, ever since. Much of the popularity of fish as a decorative theme, especially in later dynasties, hinges on the fact that the word for fish (yu) is a homophone for the word for abundance, and the word for carp (li) a homophone for the word for profit.
Compare the current dish with a Kangxi bowl decorated with almost identical fishes (although the bowl is decorated inside and outside), illustrated in Kangxi Porcelain Wares from the Shanghai Museum Collection, 1998, pl.117, 117-1 and 117-2.
See also an 18th century dish decorated with fishes and aquatic plants in Famille verte enamels, illustrated in C.J.A. Jörg, Chinese Ceramics in the Collection of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam - The Ming and Qing Dynasties, 1997, p.172, pl.192.
Other examples are a Kangxi bowl with iron-red-decorated fishes sold in these Rooms, 13 June 2007, lot 202; and an iron-red-decorated 'fish' brushpot, sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 28 November 2005, lot 1506.