Koi Fish Tattoo

The Complete Guide To Koi Fish Tattoo Meanings

What Does A Koi Fish Tattoo Mean?

The koi fish is a fish that today is a popular addition to fountains (as many people know them).

However, there is more to the koi than just a decoration.

The koi fish tattoo is a good luck charm and a symbol of perseverance over challenges in life.

Here are the main associations with the meaning of the koi fish tattoo:

  • Masculinity
  • Prosperity
  • Perseverance
  • Strength

Masculinity is one symbol of the koi fish, especially when the tattoo is done in the color blue.

It is a great tattoo for men to get who want to show their strength and who are proud of their fatherhood.

The koi fish tattoo also means prosperity in one’s career, life in general, or with money.

It’s no wonder we drop coins into the water where koi fish are— they are good luck charms.

Koi fish are known for their perseverance through the water by swimming upstream against the current, just as some people metaphorically do with the challenges they face.

The koi fish tattoo symbolizes never giving up through a struggle.

Another common meaning of the koi fish tattoo is strength.

The koi fish overcomes challenges and therefore is a symbol of power.

The Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning In Cultures

  • Chinese Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Koi fish originated from China, so Chinese culture is rich with its history.

The legend of the koi fish we will explain later on; however, it is important to note that Japan and China both view this story’s meaning as determination to finish a goal or to persevere through a challenging time.

Chinese koi fish tattoos are animated and cartoonish with Chinese symbols attached to the image.

They symbolize strength as well as good fortune, especially with wealth.

The Chinese also represent the koi fish as the yin and yang symbol, meaning balance.

  • Japanese Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Koi fish are popular symbols of Japanese culture and part of Japan’s national identity.

Their meanings to the Japanese are anything from luck and prosperity to perseverance through a life struggle.

A traditional Japanese tattoo, also called tebori, is typically done in blue or red surrounded by water and or flowers.

Traditional Japanese style koi fish tattoos sometimes refer to the ancient legend that koi fish become dragons.

A synopsis of this story is that many koi fishes in the Yellow River in China were swimming against the current and gaining a powerful ability to swim to a waterfall.

However, many were too scared and decided to turn back.

Only a few koi fish were left and they kept trying to swim over the waterfall for decades.

The one koi that managed, after one hundred years, to reach the top of the waterfall was transformed into a dragon by the gods.

This lesson is that perseverance will be rewarded.

The Meanings of Koi Fish Tattoo Colors

Each color over the rainbow has a unique meaning: and so does each color of the koi fish tattoo.

From perseverance to masculinity, these koi fish tattoos each have defined meanings behind their color.

  • Blue Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Blue is often associated with water, which happens to be where koi live, emphasizing its meaning.

Between the koi and the water, there can be too much blue, so this tattoo is often accented with red in the form of flowers or second koi fish.

The blue koi fish tattoo symbolizes peace and tranquility as well as harmony with nature.

It can also be a symbol of masculinity and is a common tattoo for men.

  • Black Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Black koi fish tattoos symbolize masculinity and even fatherhood; however, they can be done on women or men.

This is because the black koi fish tattoo’s second meaning is an accomplishment through a struggle in life such as financial battles or struggle with mental illness.

This tattoo represents a person’s strength to overcome obstacles.

  • Purple Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Wearing a purple koi fish on your arm or any other place on your body provides you with a symbol of inspiration that will lift you when your down.

In other words, this tattoo symbolizes perseverance.

Perseverance is defined as continuing to attempt to achieve a goal, even under enormous pressure to stop or turn around.

Therefore, the purple koi fish tattoo means that you are a fighter and will not give up even when the going gets tough.

  • White Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

The white koi fish represents success in work or an accomplishment in your career.

In the same scope, the white koi can symbolize new possibilities that are coming.

One should get a white koi fish tattoo if they want to celebrate something happening to them that is worth a congratulatory tattoo of a beautiful koi fish.

  • Yellow Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Yellow is an energetic color typically meaning joy.

However, a yellow koi fish tattoo has many meanings.

When a koi fish tattoo has a more gold tone it can mean success and prosperity in life.

On the other hand, a bright yellow koi fish tattoo can symbolize productive communication, peace of mind, and optimism.

  • Red Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

The red koi fish tattoo is often accented with black lines or a blue wave in its background.

Red often symbolizes strength or love, but in the case of the Koi fish, it can also symbolize motherhood and bravery.

The ability of the koi fish to swim upstream and reach a waterfall shows bravery to the extreme.

The red koi fish tattoo represents this bravery.

These varied meanings play out on a strongly aesthetic tattoo full of flavor and texture.

  • Orange Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Like the yellow koi fish tattoo, the koi fish in orange can symbolize happiness and optimism.

It can also symbolize strength, like a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Green Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Midori, or green in Japanese, is a type of koi fish with scales along the spine instead of the whole body.

This cool-looking fish makes an awesome tattoo, however, for some reason, it is a very uncommon tattoo.

Its meaning, like the color green, is prosperity and good luck along the way.


Fish only go two ways: down, or up.

Each way the koi fish moves has a different meaning.

  • Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning Swimming Upstream

When a koi fish is swimming upstream in a tattoo, it can refer to the story of the koi and therefore means perseverance.

  • Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning Swimming Downstream

A koi fish tattoo with the koi fish swimming downstream symbolizes independence and freedom.

It is alone and determined in its capabilities to find a new place to live or new food to eat.

The Meanings of Different Koi Fish Tattoo Designs

There are many different designs of koi fish tattoos.

The koi fish is often paired with an Asian symbol or with multiple koi fish swimming together.

Here are some examples of koi fish tattoo designs and their meanings:

  • Two Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

When there are two koi fish in a tattoo, the design usually contains one fish swimming upstream and the other swimming downstream.

This can include the yin and yang tattoo with a koi fish tattoo, but also has the meaning of acceptance of life’s challenges.

One fish goes up while the other goes down, literally symbolizing the ups and downs of life.

  • Three Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Three koi fish in a tattoo is an uncommon one, but it shouldn’t be, because it packs an important meaning.

This tattoo means balance in nature and life.

Three Koi Fish Tattoo
  • Dragon & Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

The dragon tattoo symbolizes strength and power, and the koi fish also symbolizes these things.

The effect of the two together is extreme dominance.

  • Tribal Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Tribal tattoos often mean courage or strength.

Therefore, again, we see that this tattoo symbolizes great strength just as the koi fish has the strength to swim upstream.

Tribal Koi Fish Tattoo Design
  • Lotus Flower & Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

The lotus flower is a hardy flower that can withstand many different temperature climates and conditions.

A lotus tattoo, placed along with the koi fish tattoo, their meaning is resiliency and the ability to persevere through tough situations.

  • Yin and Yang Koi Fish Tattoo Meaning

Last but not least, the yin and yang koi fish tattoo means balance between the elements as well as balance in life.

It also represents strength, because there is strength in being able to balance the good and bad in life.

Yin Yang Koi Fish Tattoo


The koi fish tattoo has many meanings, but the one that stands out the most is perseverance.

The story of the koi has such a powerful meaning that it makes sense why so many people get this tattoo.

However, using a koi fish tattoo as a good luck charm for wealth and good events to happen in life can also be very important.

Masculinity and strength are powerful messages too to attach to a tattoo.

Remember— each color and symbol that is added to the koi fish tattoo has a different meaning, so think about what you want it to represent.

What does a koi fish tattoo mean?


Related posts: