Amazing Koi Fish Tattoos

Koi fish tattoos

“Koi” is simply “carp” in Japanese, but the expensive fish that we are all familiar with are carp that have been specially bred since ancient times in China. This special breeding has produced the multi-colored varieties of koi fish that people now collect.


Koi are vigorous fish that can swim upstream. An old Chinese legend tells of koi brave enough to swim up the waterfalls of the Yellow River, and that any fish that could reach the point in the river called “Dragon Gate” would turn into a dragon.

While the fish originated from China, it is the Japanese who have made it a household name. The koi is a celebrated symbol in Japan mostly associated with exceptional courage. Other Japanese styles and designs can be viewed in this tattoo gallery.


This fish, if caught and placed on a cutting board, can lie still and wait for the knife to drop without a quiver. That it can remain stoic in the face of imminent death is a quality likened to the samurai warrior’s unflinching courage to face the sword.

Generally, koi fish tattoo’s meanings include the strength of character and the temerity to face adversity and seemingly impossible odds. With regard to the Chinese “Dragon Gate” legend, koi fish are also symbols of high aspiration and accomplishment.

Koi are also referred to as “living jewels,” and so are likewise associated with luck and good fortune. The image of five golden koi is said to mean “eternal wealth” and wellbeing. Similar fish design is Jesus fish tattoo which can be found here.