Understanding Koi Fish Color Meaning

Koi is the general name for “carp” in Japanese. The name refers to all types of carp, from the simple dull gray fish to highly colored varieties.

The first fact you should know about Koi fish color meaning is that these colored varieties are called “nishikigoi” or “braided” carp.

The Japanese word can also mean love or affection, so these colored koi symbolize friendship and romantic love in Japan. Because they also represent strength and courage, Koi have become a popular subject for tattoos, pictures, jewelry, and a whole range of products.

Each koi fish color symbolizes something different. But koi colors can also symbolize family. On Childrens Day in Japan, koi flags are used to depict family members

  • Father is black
  • Mother is red or orange
  • Boy is white or blue
  • Girl is red or pink

Koi fish tattoos have different meanings; these depend on the number of kois, direction of swimming, and colors.

Some of the more popular koi fish color meanings are explained below:


This is the best known Koi color; the fish is red and white, and that is the meaning of its name.



Here, the fish is black with an orange belly.

Karasugoi Koi Fish


This is also red and white but, in addition, there are little black areas.

Sanke Koi Fish


This koi is mainly black but it has white and red parts. It was named for the Japanese Emperor, Hirohito.

Showa Koi Fish

Ogon/ Hikarimono

This option has a metallic appearance, but it is only in one color. This can be orange, white, silver or gold. The name refers only to the gold color.

Ogon Hikarimono Koi Fish


The body is light blue or pale blue with an orange and red belly.



This koi is also light blue with some yellow areas. The name means “fallen leaves” because the colors are like Autumn leaves on water.

Ochiba Koi Fish


Body of the koi is in one color with pine-cone like scales.

Matsuba Koi Fish


Body color of the fish is red, yellow or white with some black areas. The name means “tortoise shell”.

Shiro Bekko Koi Fish


Main colors of the fish are black and white with some yellow or red areas.

Utsuri Koi Fish

As you can see, the main koi fish color meanings are simply translations of the colors, or colors which are similar to other things.

These ornamental varieties of carp are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens all over Japan.

Would YOU like to start a koi collection? Which color did you find the most appealing? You can share your thoughts simply by using the comments feed below.