125 Koi Fish Tattoos with Meaning, Ranked by Popularity

In Japanese, ‘koi’ translates to ‘carp’ or carp fish. However, just because the word carries a simple meaning doesn’t necessarily mean that koi fish do not possess any form of symbolism. The word ‘koi’ is taken from the Japanese word ‘nishigikoi’. Koi fish come in a whole spectrum of colors, and their scales are decorated with beautiful patterns. People keep koi fish in ponds and raise them as pets, and you can find pet stores that only sell koi fish. Koi fish are high-maintenance fish, and are very expensive to take care of.

Koi fish are also a common subject in tattoos. According to most tattoo artists, koi fish represent strength, prosperity, determination, independence, perseverance, and good luck, among other things. All of this is based on the huge amount of reverence and respect that the Japanese people have for the humble koi fish.

The koi fish is known to be one of the more popular choices when it comes to picking a design for a tattoo. And it’s no surprise why – It’s both attractive and colorful, and has captured the attention of so many people. Koi fish tattoos are equally loved by both men and women. Koi fish themselves are filled with, energy, especially when they’re living in their natural habitat. Perhaps one more reason as to why plenty of people love a koi fish tattoo so much is because of the fact that koi fish carry loads of symbolism, as mentioned earlier, including wealth and power.


Koi Fish Tattoo Design on Arm

Types of Koi Tattoo Designs


  1. Colored Koi Fish Tattoos

The most common pattern found in colored koi fish tattoo designs are usually gold, or a combination of orange, silver, and black. A colored koi fish is frequently placed together with other Asian-themed symbols, including lotus flowers or Chinese characters. Despite growing in muddy rivers and banks, the lotus often grows to become a beautiful flower. And because of this, lotuses are often used as symbols of determination, change, and struggle.

Getting a black koi means you have successfully overcome a certain change in your own life, or in your behavior. If you know someone who has dealt with a huge amount of pain and has reached a level of success in their lives, then the black koi fish can be a good symbol.

Another colorful koi fish tattoo idea is the blue koi fish. Although this type of design is more popular with men, since blue is considered as a masculine color. Blue koi fish often represent reproduction. Apart from that, it could also stand for calmness and tranquility of the mind and body.

  1. Koi Fish and Lotus Flowers

A koi fish paired up with a lotus flower carries plenty of meanings, as both of them are highly regarded in Japanese culture. Even though koi fish that come with lotus flowers are monochrome, the lotus is often colored pink or blue, with yellow tips. This makes the flower pop out without looking too gaudy or flamboyant. Sometimes, a tattoo with only three or two colors looks the best.

  1. Dragon Koi Fish Tattoo

Although these types of koi fish tattoo designs look frightening at first and can intimidate someone, oftentimes these two symbols possess a bigger meaning for the person. According to Japanese mythology, koi fish are sometimes reincarnated as dragons in the afterlife. A combination of a koi fish and the dragon tattoo represents changing or transforming – In particular, the person is looking forward, or welcoming a huge change in his life.

  1. Yin-Yang Koi Fish Tattoo

Yet another tattoo design chock-full of Asian symbolism. The yin-yang symbol stands for harmony and balance. According to Buddhist and Taoist teachings, everything in this world is connected to each other.

  1. Wave Shape Koi Fish

Sometimes, people who get koi tattoos pair them up with a Japanese-style wave shape. This gives a traditional look to your tattoo, as well as a unique touch to it. Plenty of people like getting koi tattoos, since their scales look incredible, especially when translated onto a tattoo design.

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Meaning of Koi Fish Tattoo Designs

Koi fish tattoo designs symbolize luck and prosperity. There used to be an old myth about a koi fish who wanted to climb up a huge waterfall on the Huanghe river, in order to turn into a dragon. So a koi fish usually represents a person who is determined to become a better individual and do good for the universe.

Another symbolism for the koi fish tattoo is for those who have made it through many difficult obstacles in their own lives. Plenty of people who have overcome adversity, including fighting cancer or recovering from alcoholism or drug use get koi tattoos as well. The koi serves as a type of symbol to represent their own personal success.

Meanwhile, getting a tattoo of swimming koi symbolizes determination. Chinese people in particular believe that they symbolize prosperity in businesses or careers and schoolwork.


Ideal Placement of a Koi Fish Tattoo

Where a koi fish tattoo is placed will all depend on its size and look. However, plenty of people who get koi fish tattoos place them on their neck, finger, back, chest, thigh, foot, arms, and ears. The shoulders are also a great place for putting  koi fish tattoo, since they serve as an excellent canvas for the tattoo artist to draw their design. A person’s shoulders are visible most of the time, so any tattoo placed in that area will catch someone’s eye.

Lots of people who acquire koi fish tattoos usually place them on their arms as a part of a sleeve tattoo design. The back and legs are also popular spots to put in koi fish tattoos.

For the ladies, you can get koi tattoo designs over your hips. Tattoos on the hips give off a sexy vibe. You can choose to get a small tattoo, or a bigger one that goes downwards towards the legs, or upwards to your ribs. This all depends on the design that you like, and whatever the tattoo artist creates.


Koi Tattoo Preparation Tips

Sometimes people who decide to get tattoos for the first time feel either excited or anxious. The prospect of getting your first tattoo might seem frightening, since you still have no idea what’s going to happen during the session. Getting a koi fish tattoo, or a tattoo in general, must be thoroughly researched so you can completely decide if you want one or not.

  • Familiarize yourself with the cost of the average tattoo, and all of the pain that comes with getting one. Tattoo artists recommend placing koi tattoos on the legs, on the arms as a sleeve, or on the person’s backside.
  • After you have decided to push through with that first tattoo, it is now time to pick out that tattoo design. Go for a design that you really like, and bears a timeless quality and meaning.
  • Make sure to always get plenty of rest before getting a tattoo. This allows you to relax during the tattooing process.
  • As much as possible, try to withstand the pain of the tattoo needle, and don’t move around too much. Find a way to keep yourself relaxed and calm. Do some breathing exercises. This could come in handy if you take any meditation classes or yoga.

Average Service Cost & Standard Price for Getting Koi Fish Tattoo Designs

Through the years, the koi fish remains one of the better designs when it comes to getting a tattoo. Certain tattoo parlors typically charge their tattoos according to size, as well as the colors that you use and the originality of the design. Other parlors charge by the hour. So the bigger the tattoo, the longer the completion, and the more expensive the price.

When it comes to pricing, the standard tattoo could go from at least $50 to $100 per hour. An original design could cost a whopping $300. Of course, it all depends on the tattoo’s size, and the artist’s skill. The rates will all depend on how the tattoo parlor works, along with the artist’s experience.


Maintenance Tips After Getting a Koi Fish Tattoo

It’s always important to take care of a tattoo, especially if it’s still fresh. This guarantees that your tattoo won’t get any infections which could pose serious problems to your health. Not taking care of your tattoo could also damage it in the long run.

If you need to clean yourself after getting a tattoo, opt for a shower instead of a bath. It’s also not a good idea to stay in a sauna or swim in a chlorinated pool, or a lake. Do not swim or use a tub for at least up to three weeks. Unfortunately, plenty of people don’t remember this tip, so their tattoo already looks badly damaged a couple of weeks after acquiring it.

If your tattoo is unfortunate enough to get damaged, you can always request for a touch-up. Many tattooists offer these touch-ups for free. However, there are still rules you need to follow if you want to get a touch-up. If you don’t follow your tattooist’s rules for tattoo aftercare and end up damaging it, they could end up charging you for a touch-up.