The koi or golden carp is an ornamental fish that is common in Japan, and in Japanese gardens worldwide. It is considered a lucky symbol and is kept as in large fishpond in a formal garden. Koi are not usually kept alone in an aquarium, instead, these fishes are allowed to propagate in large man-made ponds.
The first koi tattoos were based on traditional Japanese prints, and were used by Japanese Yakuza members. Modern koi tattoos still lean heavily on traditional Japanese designs, with an emphasis on stylized fish drawings. Koi fish tattoos have evolved with trends like watercolors, Western motifs and realistic renditions. However, no matter what style the koi tattoo takes, it is still considered as a good luck charm for the wearer.
1. Traditional Japanese Koi Fish Tattoo
The Koi Fish is believed to bring prosperity and good luck to the Japanese people. They view this rare fish as a symbol of perseverance and determination. For men who value these qualities, a traditional Japanese koi fish is an impactful and aesthetic design to consider. Irezumi or conventional Japanese tattoo style features a unique look defined by vibrant colors and bold lines. The koi fish and other elements like dragons, temples, sakura blooms, and tigers are popular subjects for this traditional tattoo style.
2. Simple Koi Fish Tattoo
Another option for laid-back men who want a more straightforward approach to inking is the simple koi fish tattoo. Ideally, simple tattoos feature a minimalist design that looks understated but is as meaningful as the more intricate ones. These tattoos focus more on the basic shapes and are stripped of any extensive detailing. It goes best for people who follow a simple lifestyle and prefer a basic ink design that they can easily conceal.
3. Small Koi Fish Tattoo
Although extensive and detailed tattoo design appeals to most men, some individuals prefer a small but meaningful tattoo. A small koi fish tattoo might be an understated approach to body art, but it is a discreet yet versatile choice to make. Opting for a small tattoo gives you more leeway in choosing the perfect placement and the elements that you can include to create art that you can proudly wear. You can also get it inked on your wrist or behind the ear for a modern yet subtle approach.
4.Pisces Koi Fish Tattoo
It is common to combine koi fish tattoos with other Eastern elements such as the lotus flower and the Yin and Yang symbols. Additionally, they can also represent the zodiac sign Pisces. The sign features two fishes swimming closely together but in the opposite direction. This design can be associated with duality or that the wearer is torn between two choices. People born under this sign will likely consider this unique ink design.
5. Koi Fish Yin Yang Tattoo
Japanese people highly value koi fish. The perfect hues in this fish will fetch a considerable price. These fishes are associated with prosperity and good fortune, so they are well-loved pets in ponds. When a koi fish with the yin yang symbol is made into a tattoo design, it is associated with perseverance and abundance. It is pretty common to see this kind of design combination as it also reflects harmony and balance. Having this tattoo is like wearing a symbol of good luck on your skin.
6. Koi Fish Swimming Upstream Tattoo
Koi tattoos carry with them deep meanings and symbolism. The direction in which they are swimming also means something. If they swim upstream, they struggle, battle, persevere, and stay committed to a goal. This meaning will appeal to men, mainly because it also showcases the ability to swim against the current.
7. Koi Fish Swimming Downstream Tattoo
If you choose a koi fish swimming downstream for your next ink, know that it is associated with success or triumph over obstacles. It may also mean that they do not possess the strength to go against the current yet.
8. Two Koi Fish Tattoo
Similar to Yin and Yang and the Pisces tattoo designs, the two koi fish tattoos are another great way to represent balance in life. It features two fishes that life is a matter of push and pulls, although others also look into its representation of duality with the two fishes swimming in opposite directions. You can choose to have a black and white koi fish tattoo which can be simple or complicated depending on your preference.
9. Avatar Koi Fish Tattoo
When looking for inspiration for your next inking, you can look for symbols or images that are significant in your favorite movie or shows. For instance, there are many Avatar: The Last Airbender fans who find the koi characters in the front to inspire tattoo design. The white koi fish in the show is the Moon Spirit, while the black Koi is the Ocean Spirit. These two koi fishes symbolize balance, and getting inked with their image gives off a striking and meaningful design.
10. Red Koi Fish Tattoo
When deciding on a koi fish tattoo, the colors you choose are essential in expressing your meaning. Choosing shades of red for your koi fish ink means that you value courage and bravery. Red and other shades close to it are common among these animals. This bold hue is also linked with passionate love, power, strength, and motherhood. A red koi fish tattoo is a bold and vibrant image that will surely stand out and make a statement.
11. Blue Koi Fish Tattoo
Koi fishes come in various colors, and choosing a blue koi fish tattoo is a very masculine choice. These azure-colored carp are associated with reproduction. Blue and white koi fish symbolizes the son of a family. Likewise, it is also associated with tranquility, peace, and calmness.
12. Black Koi Fish
Koi fish are very colorful. You will see them on ponds with unique markings on their body. The Japanese people breed these fishes to create distinct color combinations, and each shade often represents a different meaning. It is rare to see a black koi fish, but when you visit one, you will be mesmerized. It is associated with strength and adversity. A black koi fish tattoo will appeal to people who have struggled and triumphed over their challenges. This tattoo design and symbolism are deeply personal to the wearer than its unique and aesthetic appeal.
13. Black and Grey Koi Fish Tattoo
A combination of black and grey tattoo colors is a popular choice among men. With a skilled artist, a simple image with these primary colors can look incredible. These colors are also ideal if you want a personal touch to your koi fish tattoo. Although these fishes are known to have vibrant colors, choosing black and grey allows you to highlight their details and intricate marks. It also allows you to focus more on the subject and meaning of your ink.
14. Dragon and Koi Fish Tattoo
A combination of the dragon and Koi fish tattoo may sound odd for some, but an ancient Japanese tale involves these two. According to the legend, a koi fish persevered in swimming up a magical waterfall, and the Gods rewarded it by transforming it into a mighty dragon. The legendary koi fish is now celebrated as a symbol of strength, power, masculinity, and wisdom. Its combined tattoo image is associated with transformation. This tattoo design is perfect for those who appreciate the story and the qualities it represents.
15. Koi Fish and Lotus Flower
Koi fish are popular tattoo elements in Eastern cultures. Men who want to express their optimism in life will find the Koi fish and lotus flower tattoo combination an appealing choice for their next inking. The lotus flower is associated with strength and spirituality, while the Koi is linked with power, prosperity, and good fortune. The lotus flower and koi combination is a clear expression of struggles in the past and strength as you triumph over your challenges.
16. Koi Fish and Cherry Blossom Tattoo
If you enormously admire Japanese culture, or you want to honor your Japanese heritage, you may consider getting a koi fish and cherry blossom tattoo combination. These two elements are deeply significant for the Japanese. Sakura blooms are associated with beauty and fleeting existence because the flowers do not last long. Meanwhile, koi fishes are associated with prosperity and luck. When combined, it creates a visually exciting picture that is also heavy on symbolism. You can have this design inked on your back or thigh to allow more details in the image.
17. Fire and Water Koi Fish Tattoo
Other popular elements that you can include with your koi fish tattoo are fire and water. It is an alternative design if you do not like the yin yang or Pisces Koi tattoo. But the meaning it holds is pretty much the same – two opposing powers coming together.
18. Koi Fish Sleeve Tattoo
A sleeve tattoo is a trendy placement choice for men because it draws attention to their muscles. However, choosing what design or images to put in your sleeve tattoo is a challenging game. You can work with your artist to create a design that will make a statement and be meaningful at the same time. The Koi fish sleeve tattoo can give you that satisfaction in terms of design details and symbolism. You can make this image your base and add other elements related to an overall theme. Images that you can use are sakura blooms, lotus flowers, temples, waves, and the yin yang symbol. But it is also essential to know that detailed and extensive tattoo designs may take several sessions to complete, but the result will be worth it.
19. Koi Fish Thigh Tattoo
Some professions require men to keep their tattoos discreet as possible. So, when you choose your next inking project, consider your lifestyle or career too. If you want to get something extensive and detailed, it is best to select a placement to cover up when needed. Apart from the back, the thigh is a popular choice for meaningful and detailed tattoo design. It features enough space for an intricate koi fish tattoo that you can be creative about. Plus, this spot is also low on the pain level when getting inked.
20. Koi Fish Half Sleeve Tattoo
A half sleeve tattoo is designed to take up half the arm and cover it with your chosen design. Instead of covering the whole peninsula, the artist finishes the design at the elbows. It is an excellent choice if you are engaged in a more formal profession, and having detailed tattoo designs is frowned upon. You can choose the koi fish image for symbolism that you can easily relate to. Also, half sleeve inking does not hurt as much as other placement, so you can enjoy the process of getting inked.
21. Koi Fish Back Tattoo
If you like a bigger and better ink design, you have to be ready with a prominent placement too! The back offers a spot big enough to accommodate a large and detailed design. Back tattoos are also very intimate because you can choose to show off your tattoo when you want and keep it away from prying eyes too. A koi fish back tattoo may lead to some discomfort during the process. And considering the size and details that you wish to have, it may take some time before it is completed.
22. Koi Fish Leg Tattoo
Leg tattoos are excellent options for men who want to showcase their ink and make a bold statement. This spot offers ample space for koi fish tattoo detailing and some creative fest. It is not high on the pain scale, so you can enjoy the inking process even if it takes several sessions to finish. However, expect some discomfort when you move closer to the knees or foot.
23. Koi Fish Calf Tattoo
For tattoo designs meant to be seen, you can choose the calf as your placement area. This spot is a fantastic option as it draws attention to your leg and thigh muscles. A koi fish tattoo will work well in this spot, too, because it has a unique and symbolic design. The calf is also low on the pain scale so that you can get a more extensive and more detailed plan.
24. Realistic Koi Fish Tattoo
Realistic tattoos are uniquely fantastic tattoo designs that are pretty popular with both men and women. Tattoo designs made in this style are created to look like they are honest and are about to swim off your skin. Choose a skilled artist if you want a beautifully rendered realistic koi fish tattoo.
25. Watercolor Koi Fish Tattoo
Among the newest tattoo techniques, the watercolor style is one of the fastest ones to become famous. It is understandable because designs using this technique come out amazing at all times. The design features a combination of shades expertly blended. Thus it looks like a painting on your skin. This design is also perfect for doing a koi fish tattoo if you want a conversation piece because the outcome will be relaxed and stylish. On the other hand, this tattoo style tends to age faster than others, so it is best to choose a placement that is not exposed to sunlight.
The koi is not only considered as a good luck charm for the household, but it also signifies perseverance in the face of adversity. The koi represents the struggles in life that a person needs to overcome in order to succeed.
Drawings of two kois are almost as common as those of single koi. The two koi tattoos art typically depicted as swimming together or in opposite directions. in opposition, the tattoo follows the yin yang convention, where there is balance and harmony in opposites.
The Yin and Yang symbol in Koi tattoos is a core Eastern religious or philosophical belief in the balance of life and nature. Life is not complete if there is an imbalance. As a tattoo, it represents a person’s search for peace and harmony with a balanced life.
Traditional koi fish tattoos are almost always drawn in the traditional manner, complete with scales, and flowing fins. Depending on the source material, there can be other elements to the tattoo, including fire and water, dragons, cherry blossoms and lotus flowers. With all these elements, a koi fish tattoo can be very complex and requires a large space for the tattoo.