Fish tattoo meanings
Although a fish, particularly a carp, isn’t the first creature that comes to mind when you think about popular tattoo designs, the Japanese carp, known as the koi, is a fish celebrated for its significant presence in ancient myth and its beautiful coloring, making it a very popular image in fish tattoos. Other fish images, including the Pisces symbol, are also commonly used in tattoo designs, depending on what meaning the wearer wants to depict with his or her fish tattoo. It’s hard to imagine how many different meanings fish tattoos can have, but what a fish tattoo actually symbolizes depends on a number of factors, including the type of fish, its color and markings, and what else is featured in the tat, like water. If you are thinking about getting a fish tattoo, it’s extremely important to take into consideration the variety of fish tattoo designs available and what you want your fish tattoo meaning to be. Check out the information below to learn all about fish tattoos and what they mean.
Koi fish tattoo meaning
The koi fish is a popular breed of fish in Asia, highly regarded for more than just its beautiful colors. According to Chinese legend, koi fish were capable of swimming against a stream’s current, and even had the strength and determination to climb waterfalls. The most significant myth surrounding koi fish says that if the koi succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called Dragon Gate on the Yellow River, it would be transformed into a dragon. Because of this ancient Chinese myth, the meaning of koi fish tattoos have come to represent perseverance and good fortune, and the Japanese have also embraced this koi fish tattoo meaning. The meanings of different koi fish tattoos vary depending on how the fish is depicted in the tat, more specifically whether the fish is swimming upstream or downstream. If the koi fish tattoo features a koi swimming upstream, one meaning could be that the person is struggling against an obstacle in life, while if the koi is swimming downstream, it could mean that the wearer has already overcome some kind of hardship.
Chinese fish tattoo meaning
The fish is surrounded by ancient myths telling of its feats and traits, and the creature has come to represent a number of important symbols today. In China, the fish is symbolic of fidelity and unity, as it is noted that fish, including koi fish, usually swim together in pairs. For this reason, fish are often given as wedding gifts and are also popular tattoo designs to represent couples or newlyweds. The Chinese aren’t the only culture to adopt the image of the fish as representative of certain characteristics though. The fish was sacred in Greco-Roman mythology, where it represented transformation and change because of the myth of Eros and Aphrodite, in which they turned themselves into fish to escape the ferocious Typhon. As a Celtic symbol, a fish tattoo meaning (particularly featuring a salmon) represents wisdom, knowledge and inspiration, as ancient Celts believed the salmon derived its wisdom from the well of knowledge. To Buddhists, the meaning of a fish tattoo would be happiness and freedom, while Eastern Indian mythology holds the fish as a symbol of creation and transformation. For Christians, a fish tattoo meaning would symbolize abundance and faith, as in the Biblical story of fish and loaves.
Carp fish tattoo meaning
“Koi” is the Japanese word for carp, a species of freshwater fish that are commonly found in public fountains and ponds. Despite the fact that the carp isn’t entirely appreciated in the Western world, the fish is surrounded by ancient myth and legend in Japan, China and other Asian cultures, making the carp a popular design for fish tattoos. Chinese in origin, the carp is now widely celebrated in Japan for its positive qualities, including courage, perseverance and strength. In fact, it is said that if the Japanese carp is caught by a fisherman, it will lay on the cutting board without fear, accepting its fate like a samurai warrior, without so much as quivering. Because the unwavering bravery of the Japanese carp has been compared to that of a samurai warrior, carp fish tattoos have become a popular design for men in particular. Women have also opted for carp fish tattoos however, as the meaning of a carp fish tattoo can also represent good luck, strength, beauty and overcoming obstacles.
Pisces fish tattoo meaning
Pisces is the final of the twelve signs of the zodiac, corresponding to the Pisces constellation, and is depicted as two swimming fish swimming in a circle, connected to one another by a band. The glyph for Pisces features what looks like a fancy “H,” with two curved vertical lines that touch one another in the middle. Pisces represents a water element and the sign is surrounded by a number of different legends. The most common Pisces fish tattoo meaning belongs to Greco-Roman mythology, which says that the two fish are actually the goddess Atargatis and the god Dagon, who was half-man and half-fish. According to the myth, the two fish were sent by Poseidon to save Aphrodite and Eros from the monster Typhon. Ruled by the planet Neptune, Pisces typically share strengths like imagination, strength, compassion and kindness, traits that could be incorporated into a Pisces fish tattoo meaning. Pisces also have a dark side, challenged by vagueness, secrecy, having a weak will, and being too idealistic. Because of the meaning of Pisces fish tattoos, a number of celebrities, including pop star Rihanna, have gotten Pisces tattoos inked on their bodies. Rihanna’s Pisces tattoo is inked just behind her right ear on her neck.
Fish tattoo meanings with water
To fully appreciate the meaning of a fish tattoo, you must consider not only the fish, but the environment in which he lives as well. Water holds ancient symbolic meanings concerning the subconscious, and also represents an element of mystery or the unknown. Water has also been known to symbolize the womb, and is therefore considered an emblem of fertility, birth and femininity. Given the symbolic meaning of water, a fish tattoo with water denotes similar concepts. There are a number of different kinds of fish to be used in fish tattoos, but the most common fish tattoo meanings with water include creativity, fertility, eternity, knowledge, happiness, transformation and good luck. Water is typically featured in koi fish tattoos in particular, as the direction of the fish’s travels (upstream or downstream) is representative of the specific fish tattoo meaning, as described above. So, even though a fish tattoo may not seem like the most attractive or feminine tattoo design, the meaning of a fish tattoo is typically something positive.
Colors & fish tattoo meanings
Since koi fish tattoos are the most popular type of fish tattoo design, it’s not uncommon to see a wide range of colors used in tats featuring koi fish. The different kinds of koi fish are typically identified by color, markings and scale variations, and the most common types of koi include the following:
- Asagi (pale blue) – pale blue koi with an orange/red belly and scales that form a net pattern on its back
- Kohaku (red and white) – red and white koi; the most popular type of koi
- Ogon (gold) – shiny, metallic koi with gold or orange coloring
- Bekko (tortoise shell) – this koi can be yellow, white or red with black markings on its body
- Ochiba (fallen leaves) – a light blue koi with yellow markings
- Utsuri (print) – black koi with white, yellow or red markings similar to ink stains
- Showa – black koi with red and white markings
- Butterfly koi – koi that are bred with asian carp and known for their long, flowing fins
- Karasugoi – black koi with orange belly
Because the koi has become such a respected symbol in Asian cultures, the fish has been adopted as the symbol of the annual Children’s Day Festival in Japan, where koi flags are flown for each member of the family. Traditionally, the black koi fish represents the father, the orange and red koi represents the mother, a pink and red koi stands for girls, and a blue and white koi stands for boys.
Popular fish tattoo designs
Different kinds of fish used in tattoo designs mean different things, so make sure you do your research before getting a fish tattoo! In other words, don’t go and get a huge goldfish inked on your back expecting it to represent courage and perseverance like a koi fish tattoo does. Once you pick the fish tattoo design that’s right for you however, the back isn’t a bad place to get it inked, especially for guys. Men typically opt for larger fish tattoos, commonly inked on their leg, back, arm or chest, while women go for smaller and more subtle fish tattoos, often located on their ankle, wrist, shoulder, lower back or foot. Regardless of where you decide to get your fish tattoo, make sure you really make it your own by learning everything you need to know about your fish tattoo meaning before you hit the tattoo shop!