What would you like to do?

Does it mean anything when a koi fish is swimming up or down on a tattoo?

already exists.

Would you like to merge this question into it?

already exists as an alternate of this question.

Would you like to make it the primary and merge this question into it?

exists and is an alternate of .

Direction of a Koi Tattoo Here are opinions and input from FAQ Farmers on whether the direction of the koi fish is significant:
  • SOMEONE ACTUALLY SAID THIS: "Yes - when a koi is swimming up on a tattoo it means that the person is either very sexual and/or homosexual. If the koi is swimming down it means the person is either wanting to give or receive oral (based on if it is a man or woman that has the tattoo)." I have a traditional koi fish tattooed on the side of my stomach. It does not in any way, shape, or form, represent being horny, or being gay, or wanting to preform/receive oral sex. I actually laughed out loud when reading this answer. This is a perfect example of why you should not go to a site to find the symbolism of a tattoo. A tattoo is whatever it means to you. Many traditional tattoos do have historical symbolism, such as the koi fish, but in all reality the symbolism is unique to every person - or just isn't there. However, I am very, very, very sure that there is in no way enough of a belief that koi fishes mean you're horny to be it's "symbolism." I'm going to take an educated guess and say that every single one of the answers below will answer your question with 2938592859 times more reliability than the above quoted answer.
  • My best friend has a koi fish tattoo. She's half-Japanese and she says that if the koi is swimming down, it means that you're trying to overcome hardships and if it's swimming up, you have already overcome them.
  • It would make more sense if it were the opposite. Up = Overcoming Hardships (example - swimming upstream in a battle against the current). Down = accomplished the goal (example - swimming downstream...finally succeeding through the hardship). This is my vote. *edit* I would like to disagree, i believe that if the koi is swimming upstream it has gained strength (by overcoming hardships) and can tackle the wheight of the current. If the koi is swimming downstream then it has not yet gained the strength to swim against the current rendering it weaker.
  • According to Japanese legend, if a koi succeeded in climbing the falls at a point called 'Dragon Gate on the Yellow River' it would be transformed into a dragon. Based on that legend, it became a symbol of worldly aspiration and advancement.
  • There aren't any specific or concrete meanings for certain tattoo symbols. For example: A cross to some may be just be a cross. But to others, there's a religious meaning. Remember, sometimes a rose is just a rose. It doesn't mean or symbolize anything!
  • Actually, in traditional Eastern tattooing, especially the Japanese art of Horimono, the symbolism is important in the direction of travel of the koi and the items with it in the water or subsequent background. The koi that has been surrounded by late season fauna such as maple leaves, etc. and is pointed downwards is intended to denote the fall. A koi pointing upwards surrounded by cherry blossoms or other early blossoming things denotes the spring. You'll note that many fish travel those directions up and down rivers and streams based on those pesky seasonal changes.
  • As a general rule you almost never want to get a tattoo that faces towards your back. If you notice almost all of the arm or side tattoos that you will see will be facing the front. There is always an exception. Whether the fish is swimming up or down I am not sure. But really it doesn't matter what it means to anyone else, just what it means to you.

  • There is some confusion about the legend of the Koi swimming up the waterfall at the dragon gate on the yellow river. I have heard both that it is Chinese and that it is Japanese. I'm not sure which, perhaps both. *edit: Koi do originate from China and were later introduced to Japan in the 1800s. So, I see why there would be mixed messages.*


- Koi's swimming downstream are considered bad luck. The legend is a koi swimming upstream turns into a dragon. It is good luck.
as far as upstream vs. down

upstream means that you are still fighting or struggling


downstream means that your hardships have been overcome and no longer fighting the current


also if there is a dragon incorporated into your tat it signifies that the dragons gate falls have been successfully achieved also meaning that you have achieved your goals or overcome your hardships


traditional ink holds to this criteria, however most who now get this tat just go with what they think looks cool and forget about the meanings of what they get.


i have a koi backpiece and hold true to the traditional and laugh at some people who have chosen colorwise, whiskers, and other elements incorporated into their ink because they sometimes don't realize how screwed up the meaning of it is



the direction of the koi, being toward the head or toward the foot is not as important as the direction of the water it is in... the koi facing up stream, regardless of the directionality toward the head or foot is a sign of determination and endurance.. the continuing battle to overcome adversity... the koi facing down stream does not signify failure and giving up.. it is a sign peace with tranquility.. the same way fish gather in still water to feed.. i hope this helps..
Thanks for the feedback!

What does the direction of a koi fish tattoo mean?

The koi fish swimming up stream means the person is currently in a  battle or struggle and are still fighting obstacles but wont give  up. They have overcome obstacles and h

Should a koi fish tattoo face up or down?

Actually it's bad luck for a Koi to going "downstream" for a tattoo. (it's not actually bad luck, it's considered that you are trying to overcome any hardships and that t

What does a red orange and yellow koi fish tattoo mean?

it means NOTHING. stop looking for meaning in all tattoos. many tattoos are simply whimsical and fun or aesthetically pleasing. they don't all mean things. also, different des

Should a tattoo of a koi fish swim up or down your arm?

  well it should swin both way b.cuzzz fish cann siwn up or down. The tattoo rlly has to do with jordain sparks b.c of he or it will be in her heart like a tattoo as if a

What does a blue koi fish tattoo mean?

A koi fish tattoo can have many meanings. It can symbolize bravery,  romance, strength, power, luck, and friendship. A blue koi fish  symbolizes calmness, and peace.

Koi fish and dragon tattoo meaning?

There are many different possible meanings that could be behind a  tattoo of a Koi fish and dragon. These could represent power and  agility for example.

What does it mean of a koi swimming down?

  If you mean a Koi is constantly swimming upside down then the fish has a damaged swim bladder and is very sick. It will probably die if you can't get some proper treatme

Koi fish tattoo pointing up arm means?

  I'm not sure if the answer changes based on whether the fish is pointing up the arm, but in general, they symbolize luck. Here's a site with more information if you're

What does a koi swimming down stream mean?

A koi would generally be depicted swimming upstream, not down. According to Japanese legend, once a koi swims over the falls at the 'Dragon Gate on the Yellow River' it would

Does the koi fish need to be up or down?

Koi Carp are very large fish growing to over 24 inches. They should be kept in ponds outdoors not in fish tanks. All fish produce ammonia (including Koi) so all fish need thei

What does the direction of a koi fish mean in tattooing?

Well koi fish symbolise strength and courage, and the legend and myth behind the koi fish is that it swims upstream to turn into a dragon. The Dragon symbolises the end of a j

What does 9 red koi fish tattoo mean?

Unless the number of Koi is meant to be the number of people within that person's family, then nothing. As I always say, a lot of tattoos are meant as decoration solely, and m