Koi Fish Meaning

Koi fish is very popular in Asia for many reasons. It comes in different colors to make Japanese outdoor ponds look pretty. Being able to reach a large size, it has a good longevity. It is a hardy fish, easy to feed, which is very easy to have at home.

koi fish japan

What is the true significance of the Koi fish? Find out through this article.

Koi Fish in detail

koi fish symbolism japan

The Koi fish whose scientific name is Cyprinus carpio is an ornamental fish whose appearance is similar to the subspecies of carp we all know. Small in size at first, this fish is able to measure at adulthood 60 to 90 cm long. The Koi Fish embodies virility and love for the Asians. There are many species of Koi Fish and it can be of different colors namely white, black, red, orange, yellow, etc.

The origins of Koi Fish!

The appearance of the first Koi Fish dates back to the 5th century BC. They were bred mainly in China and Korea before reaching the archipelago.

koi fish origin

Initially, they were only traditional carp with a black color that was introduced to the territory during Sino-Japanese incursions. The Japanese soon used them as a farm animal in the ponds feeding the rice fields.

The first specimen appeared in the XIX following an unexpected chromatic transformation. The latter derives first from the red, then white and bicolor species. Thanks to their color, carp have become animals mainly bred for their beauty.

koi fish story

In Japan, Koi Fish are known as "Nishikigoi" which means colorful fish. They are raised mainly in the village of Yamakoshi which has made them its emblem. The village is known throughout the country for having the best koi farms.

tancho koi carp

In 1914, it were popularized worldwide through the Tokyo Exposition. Today, these fish can be found in the 4 corners of the world and they are among the most sought after species. The most prized carp is the Tancho Carp for its beautiful white coat embellished with a red spot on the head.


Japanese kimono for men with koi fish pattern
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The character and behavior

koi carp behavior

Koi Fish are fairly social fish that like to live in groups. Rarer among fish, the company of different species of fish, does not bother it. One of the main characters of the Koi Fish is its resistance. Its longevity is 18 to 25 years. However, under ideal conditions, Koi Fish can live up to 70 years.

The diet

As far as their diet is concerned, it are omnivorous fish with herbivorous tendencies hence their pacifism. Unlike some fish species, koi fish do not attack other fish in order to eat them. It can feed on algae and plants that it discovers with its barbels. It also feeds on small mollusks and other insects.

koi fish diet

In a pond, Koi Fish adapt to the diet you give them. This makes feeding easier when you have multiple species in the pond. However, for growth, it need 20-30% protein even though they are very regularly satisfied with plant foods.

During the winter period, it is no longer necessary to feed them. Because if the temperature drops around 6°C, it hibernate.


pond japan

While Koi Fish can be raised in ponds, it is also possible to raise them in other conditions. Indeed, it enjoy sandy or muddy bottoms as they find food there. Koi can be raised in ponds or in tanks. Aquarium breeding is prohibited, as koi fish require a large amount of water.

This water volume can reach 1 m3 as an adult. Moreover, they are fast growing species. But beware of the temperature of the water, which affects enormously on the appetite of the colored fish.

koi fish pond water quality

At a high temperature, it is voracious, but at a temperature of 6°C, it goes into semi-hibernation and practically stops feeding. In cooler periods, Koi Fish take refuge at the bottom of the ponds in order to have warmth and preserve themselves from the cold until the end of the winter.

If you want to raise Koi Fish, it is necessary that you take into account the characteristics that the water must have in order to ensure the proper development of these animals.

koi fish water temp

This being the case, the pH of the water must be between 7.5 and 8.5. The nitrate content must be less than 50 mg/liter. The nitrite and ammonia content must be less than 0.1 mg/liter. And finally, the calcium carbonate content must be between 100 and 300 mg/liter.

Symbol and meaning of Koi Fish

Koi Fish is known to be a guarantor of peace and serenity for the Japanese. From a spiritual point of view, the Koi Fish symbolizes strength and perseverance when facing difficulties in life in order to move forward. In addition, in Japan, it cards are given to wish students good luck for their exams.

In the culture of Japan, it also evokes social climbing, marked in the 21th century. For example, in the Kodomo no hi or Tango no Sekku ceremony, which is a children's festival celebrated on May 5 of the year, the Koi Fish symbolizes virility and strength.

This ceremony is associated with young boys especially during the period of Kamatura when the boy-children of samurais got their first armor. To this day, the ancestral ritual exists to reinforce the young boy's place in society.

Koi fish ceremony

As a reminder, during the Kudomo no hi ceremony, the Japanese hang streamers with the appearance of Koi Fish. They symbolize the whole family swimming against the current. The father is represented by a black carp, the mother by a red carp. This tradition would bring good luck to the household and be an example of courage to the next offspring.


Japanese painting koi fish

 Buy a Japanese painting koi fish

The varieties of Koi Fish and their significance.

There are several species, each of which has a particular meaning. Indeed, the carp:

Koi fish color

  • Chagoi, it embodies health, but also longevity. So if you want to live to a ripe old age, you can adopt this single-colored Koi Fish.
  • Utsurimono: this carp symbolizes spirituality. It is black in color with colored spots.

koi fish color meaning

  • Yamabuki: the carp embodies wealth or money. It is golden.
  • Tancho: this white colored carp with a red spot on the forehead evokes honor. And it refers to the flag of Japan.

different colors of koi fish

  • Benigoi: it embodies passionate love because of its dress which is of intense red color.
  • Finally, the Kujaku carp symbolizes happiness.

The meaning of Koi fish tattoo

Depending on the color, the direction of the carp and different elements, the Koi Fish can have many meanings.

carp jump

If the carp is depicted against the current, it shows courage and perseverance. Indeed, during the spawning season, it show courage to swim upstream. The Koi fish also embodies ambition, tenacity and willpower in the face of challenges and trials of everyday life.

japanese koi fish tattoo

Finally, it being a peaceful animal with a gregarious instinct, it also symbolizes love, the relationship with others and especially that with the family. Moreover, the Koi fish is the sign of fertility and is also associated with children because of the quantity of eggs it lays.

Finally, the colored fish is a guide since it indicates the right the path that must be followed in order to fulfill its destiny.

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