Koi fish have intrigued and inspired for centuries. They have been called “living jewels” and “swimming flowers” for their physical beauty. They are also rich with symbolic significance, especially in Asian cultures. The name “koi” is Japanese, but it is believed these large carp have origins in Eastern Asia, Persia and China. Koi can range in size significantly depending upon their aquatic environment. They’re adorned with bright colors that can include yellow, orange, gold, white, black, silver and a calico mix. The following are some of the meanings, myths, qualities and symbolism associated with koi fish:


Koi fish are known for their ability to climb rushing streams and waterfalls until they reach their destination. They are determined fighters that do not give up.

Wealth and Abundance

Koi are also associated with financial advancement and success. This is in part because larger koi can be quite expensive. Their elegant forms and radiant colors also convey richness and opulence.


Koi symbolize good fortune and auspicious circumstances in Asian cultures. Whether you cultivate the fish or display koi emblems, symbols or tattoos, it’s believed koi can help draw positive energies to you and your family.


In addition to their beauty, koi are known for being very courageous. They face challenges head on without backing away, and this allows them to overcome obstacles and achieve.

Family Strength

Japanese festivals have honored koi for their positive qualities in connection with family strength and development. Specific koi colors represent each family member and they are emblematic of solidarity, harmony and unity.


A legend from ancient China tells how koi that succeeded in climbing the Yellow River falls near Dragon Gate became dragons. In this way, koi symbolize evolution, growth and transformation.

Feng Shui

A koi pond on one’s property can improve the flow of positive energy and serenity. Koi support positive feng shui and an auspicious, optimal flow of universal life force energy for all who live and visit there.

Uniqueness and Non-Conformity

Koi also symbolize a willingness to stand out from the crowd. Their determined nature embodies both creative self-expression and a fighting spirit.

Buddhist Connotations

The qualities and characteristics of koi fish have also made it a popular Buddhist symbol. It could be said that humans must navigate the treacherous waters of suffering just as koi persistently fight their way against difficult currents.  

Koi Fish

It is the mission of the Bodhisattva to remain focused on the goal of Enlightenment despite turbulent waters all around. The touchstone of Buddha Nature is always there, and koi inspire us in their ability to stay focused and succeed with grace and style. Koi fish embody a quiet beauty and mystery that’s both peaceful and intriguing. Let the koi fish serve as inspiration for cultivating their many positive qualities in yourself.
Suggested Reading: The Happy Buddha