simbología pez koi

Koi fish meaning

Koi are not only coloured fish. Koi have a long tradition based on the “legend of the koi”.

In this article we evaluate the koi fish meaning in 6 different contexts: 

1. Legend of the koi

The basic reading in order to understand koi fish meaning is the “legend of the koi” (soon available to download here). 


simbología koi

Koi Hacienda: The legend of koi – basic reading in order to understand the meaning of the koi

2. Koi in the Japanese language 

The Japanese language is really fussy – or exact, like you wish to call it – compared with our rudimentary European languages. As an example: In Japan you have two words to express love: “koi” and “ai”. 

simbología koi

Koi Hacienda: The koi fish meaning in Japanese languages is “love”

The word koi describes a love for the opposite sex or a feeling of longing for a specific person.

While “ai” has the same meaning as “koi,” it also has a definition of a general feeling of love. “Koi” can be selfish, but “ai” is a real love. Another slight difference is that “koi” is always wanting and “ai” is always giving.

3. Koi in Feng Shui

In Feng Shui (a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment) the koi fish meaning is linked to the ying-yang symbol.

simbología koi

Koi Hacienda: ying-yang symbol in Feng Shui

The white spot in the black part and the black spot in the white part of the symbol are interpreted as the permanent watchful eye of the koi.

The ying-yang symbol represents the perfect harmony between dark and bright / negative and positive as well as the masculine and feminine side.

The circular movement of the koi represents the belief that all things are connected, that all the described opposed and contradictory aspects (black-white, negative-positive, male-female) belong all together and make the circle perfect and complete.

So in Feng Shui koi drawings are used to bring happiness and harmony into the house. 

4. Koi as a tattoo design

A lot of people already know about the koi fish meaning and would not only like to have harmony in the house, but on their own body (others probably just like the drawing of the koi), so they get a koi tattoo

Here it is significant the direction the koi is moving: 

  • upstream: (like the koi in the “legend of the koi”) you are currently in a battle, you encounter difficulties, but you don’t give up
  • downstream: you have reached your goals and do not need anymore to swim against the current. 

The colours used in the koi tattoo are important, too. Here they use the meanings of the koinobori (the flags used for the Japanese Children’s Day the 5th of May)  

  • black: father
  • red: mother
  • blue: first son
  • pink: first daughter 

5. Koi in the spiritual world

Carl Gustav Jung – the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst – sees the fish as a symbol for the self.

The ancient Egyptians saw in the fish the symbol of the soul. 

In Buddhism the fish is seen as a sign of spiritual power.

Another interpretation is, that the fish are able to take us into the land of our phantasies (remember the mermaids). 

The element water generally represents emotions, indulgence, letting go, cleaning. 

Water is a primordial symbol, which generally embodies one’s own soul life with the conscious and unconscious content.

In every pond there should be a black koi, as it is interpreted to absorb the negative energy. So, if you have a black koi in your pond and it dies, be grateful because it has been taking over the bad energy which would have been going against you or your family. 

6. Special koi patterns and their meanings

Yamabuki Ogon: The yellow koi with the metallic shine is like gold and represents therefor wealth

Kumonryu: Is black, white, grey koi which is changing its colours depending on season, stress, water quality etc. Thus this koi stands for transformation. 

Ochiba Shigure: Is a brown and grey koi. Literally the words mean “fallen leaves in rain”.

Tancho: Are white koi with one red circle on the head, like the Japanese Crane. 

koi tancho signficado

Koi Hacienda: Japanese Crane, koi Tancho, Japanese flag

Doitsu: Doitsu koi are the ones without scales. The translation of doitsu is “Germany” as the breedings without scales was “invented” by the Germans. 

Matsuba: Describes the pine cone pattern of the scales of some koi. 

Kuchibeni: “kuchi” means in Japanese “lips”. Sometimes you can see a koi which has color on the mouth like it would be painted with lipstick.




Koi meaning love:

Koi in Feng Shui:

Definition Feng Shui:

Koi in tattoos:

Koi in the spiritual world:

Koi meanings and patterns: