Koi which is the Japanese word for carp has been a popular tattoo design for many years and still to this day remains popular amongst both men and women. The meaning behind it all? Mythology would have you believe that the Koi fish has the ability to swim up the yellow river and become a dragon – this of course is symbolic of ones aspirations to become something bigger and better in life. In Japanese culture the Koi fish is also symbolic of good luck and fortune.
Now that’s not to say that’s the reason behind everyone having a Koi fish tattoo, for some all it means is that they’re lovers of fish or the intricate detail of the design. We have compiled 40 of our favorite Koi fish tattoo designs to show you.
Red Koi Tattoo
Firstly let’s just acknowledge how absolutely amazing this design is! It’s the most traditional and common Koi fish which is the orange/gold colored Koi fish. It has been paired with the lotus flower which holds a lot of symbolic meaning of it’s own. The lotus flower grows in muddy waters but turns in to a beautiful flower, signifying struggle, determination and a change for the better in ones life.
Black Koi Tattoo
Here is another example of a breathtakingly beautiful Koi fish design on a ladies back. This time in just black ink but as you can see the shading work is impeccable.
We particularly like the traditional Japanese style wave shapes that people put around Koi fish tattoo designs. They are a unique way of drawing waves and give the tattoo a great traditional look. Also a lot of people choose fish tattoos because of how beautiful their scales can look when tattooed well.
The full name of Koi is actually Nishigikoi and they come in a range of colors with amazing looking patterns on them. Traditionally they are kept in ponds as pets, valued for their beautiful and fascinating appearance. Many a garden’ s appearance has been improved by having a Koi pond with these colorful fish swimming in them
Here you can see more of a modern take on the Koi fish tattoo design. Pinks and greys always manage to work well together and we love the watercolor style blots that make up the background of this design, very beautiful indeed.
Okay, wow! Even someone who doesn’t like tattoos will surely appreciate the beauty of this design. As mentioned earlier, it is quite common for people to pair Koi fishes with lotus flowers as both hold deep meaning, particularly in Japanese culture. Whilst they have opted not to color in the actual Koi fish on this one, they have colored the water blue and the lotus flower pink with yellow tips which gives it a great amount of pop without overdoing it with too many colors. Sometimes just having 2 or 3 colors total can look best.
This one looks like more of your traditional gold fish than the Koi fish but it’s definitely still got a lot of elements of Japanese art about it. Again notice the style of waves around it and the blue flowers that surround it. It’s also shaded in more of a water color style which looks really nice.
Dragon Koi Fish Tattoo
Whilst it may look scary at first sight, there is actually a great deeper meaning to this tattoo design. As mythology would have you believe, the Koi fish can later in life turn in to the dragon. This design definitely shows elements of the dragon (particularly the eyes) and as such is representing the transformation of the Koi in to the dragon koi which to a person is obviously meaningful of a change for the better in their own life.
Three is one of the most common lucky numbers to people. As such you will notice when people are opting to get more than one of something tattooed they will often opt to get three of them.
Of course it’s also worked in this tattoos favor by the three fish forming more of a circle and could be symbolic to the person of them having three loved ones in their life, such as three children.
Here is a more alternative take on the koi fish tattoo design. As you can see the person is no stranger to tattoos, already having a large skull design on their chest. Shaving the side of ones head and getting a tattoo can be seen as a big commitment by some, but of course if you end up getting a tattoo you don’t like you can always grow your hair back there and not have to see the design again!
We love the modern (but scary) take on the koi fish design. It appears to be more of a decaying fish and is most likely a representation of the persons choice to go against the flow and do things differently.