Published on May 3, 2023

Have you been inspired by the story of the Koi Fish that battled against all odds to reach the top of the mountain and be transformed into a Mythical Dragon?

If so, and you’ve been looking to commemorate the tale, it might feel like an upstream battle trying to find the perfect design.

Well, struggle no longer, as we are here to help transform your bodily art by taking you through some of the best Dragon Fish Tattoo designs we could find.

The Tale Of The Koi Fish’s Transformation Into A Dragon

The tale of the Koi fish changing into a Dragon is an inspirational tale of transformation and resilience.

While the tale varies, the original Chinese tale tells a story about a school of Golden Koi swimming upstream of the Yellow River in China.

As they continued to battle against the current, their golden scales began to shimmer brightly. However, once the school reached a seemingly insurmountable waterfall, all but one decided to turn back, letting the current sweep them back down the river.

The remaining Koi continued tirelessly to battle against the crashing of the waterfall, ignoring the doubts others had about it, and eventually succeeded in conquering the waterfall.

Having recognized the Koi’s perseverance and determination, the Gods rewarded the Koi by turning it into a Golden Dragon, a symbolic Chinese image of power and strength.

Dragon Fish Tattoo Meaning

A Dragon Fish or Ryuugyo is a hybrid of a Koi and a Dragon. In some versions of the tale, the Koi slowly begins to transform into a Dragon throughout its journey, symbolizing the change a person undergoes during a difficult journey throughout life. 

Dragon Fish Tattoo Designs 

Now that you know the brief history of the Dragon Fish, it’s time to take a look at some of the best Dragon Fish Tattoo ideas, also known as Koi Dragon Tattoos.

1. Standard Dragon Fish Tattoo

Standard Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit:

Starting off simple, a Dragon Fish Tattoo carries with it all the symbolism of the Dragon Fish Tattoo without any other bells and whistles.

This Dragon Fish Tattoo is a solid rendition of the Dragon Fish Tattoo style with great detailing on the fierce Dragon Head and the Koi body.

It makes it look like the Koi is in pain as it transforms. Let’s hope it is worth it in the end!

2. Dragon Fish Against The Waves

Dragon Fish Against The Waves

Photo credit:

This Dragon Fish Tattoo takes inspiration from the Koi Fish Tattoo design of the Koi battling against the currents.

With this design, you are capturing the essence of the tale and embodying all the symbolism that comes with the Kois journey and the transformation it undergoes.

This design is done in a classical Japanese art style, with dull colors on the fish but vibrant ones on the leaves around him.

3. Dragon Fish Sleeve Tattoo

Dragon Fish Sleeve Tattoo

Photo credit: Pinterest

A Dragon Fish Sleeve Tattoo takes inspiration from other Dragon Tattoos by spanning from the forearm and across the chest.

This Dragon Fish Tattoo design is really excellent, with its fierce-looking Dragon Fish crashing over the pectoral muscle as if it were finally reaching the top of the waterfall itself. 

4. Dragon Fish with Cherry Blossoms

Dragon Fish with Cherry Blossoms

Photo credit: Pinterest

If you want people to be certain that your Dragon Fish is inspired by the Japanese variant of the Koi story, then add some cherry blossom flowers to emphasize its Japanese aesthetic, like in other Dragon Flower Tattoos.

Cherry blossoms symbolize life's fleeting beauty, and coupled with the Dragon Fish, they can symbolize how life is fleeting, so you need to push yourself as often as possible to better yourself before it is too late. 

5. Yakuza Dragon Fish Tattoo

Yakuza Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit: Pinterest

The Yakuza are known for their bold and vibrant Tattoo designs, and this Dragon Fish Tattoo is no different.

This Dragon Fish Tattoo is inspired from the more common Yakuza Dragon Tattoo covering almost every inch of the chosen part of the body and having lush, vibrant colors.

The Dragon Fish is a perfect mix of a traditional Red Dragon Tattoo design and a traditional Koi Fish Tattoo.

6. Reimagined Dragon Fish Tattoo

Reimagined Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit: @jonlimtattoos

This Dragon Fish Tattoo takes the age-old tale and takes it back a few million years.

In this reimagining, this Fish Tattoo has both the fish and the Dragon’s head looking like prehistoric variants of their counterparts.

This thing looks ancient but so cool at the same time, with the teeth looking particularly ferocious. 

7. Alternate Dragon Fish Tattoo

Alternate Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit: @gio.tatts

You don't have to stick to traditional interpretations of Dragon Fish designs. Tattooing is a creative art form after all, so you’re free to let your imagination run wild.

This Dragon Fish Tattoo is really special. It comes across as something from another planet with the beautifully contrasting colors and, of course, the multiple eyes making it look particularly alien-like.

8. Ichiban Yakuza (Game) Tattoo

Ichiban Yakuza Tattoo

Photo credit: Reddit

Probably nothing has brought the Dragon Fish to the center of attention in recent years (or maybe ever) other than the protagonist of the Yakuza Like A Dragon video game series, Ichiban Kasuga.

Kasuga is a passionate and impulsive man who lets his emotions get the better of him more often than they should, but those who adore this loveable ‘idiot’ can honor his perseverance by getting a replica of his Tattoo for themselves. 

9. Cartoon Dragon Fish

Cartoon Dragon Fish

Photo credit:

If you’re looking for something with a little less edge to it, why not go for a cartoonish Dragon Fish Tattoo?

This little Dragon Fish is super adorable and doesn’t take up too much space if you prefer something a little more minimalistic and it nice a nice range of vibrant colors and a pleasant design. 

10. Vietnamese Style Dragon Fish Tattoo

Vietnamese Style Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit:

When most people think about the Dragon Fish they probably instinctively think either Japan or China.

However, other Southeast Asian cultures have their own version of the tale. So check out this cool Vietnamese-style Dragon Fish Tattoo design done in an old Vietnamese art style.

11. Cute Dragon Fish Tattoo

Cute Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit: @macytattoos

Stepping away from a traditional style again, why not go for something a little more cute?

This absolutely adorable Dragon Fish Tattoo is perfect for someone who loves the symbolism of the Dragon Fish but would rather keep things looking more soft and cute.

I particularly love the contrast of colors with the bright red cherry blossoms. 

12. Chinese Styled Dragon Fish Tattoo

Chinese Styled Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit: @tatertot_art

Let people know your Dragon Fish variety by giving it a more Chinese aesthetic. This cute little Dragon Fish is themed after the Lion Dance costume.

The Lion Dance costume is worn during the traditional Lion Dance that the Chinese perform during the new year or other traditional festivals.

This cute little guy has an adorable design and great, vibrant coloring, but still looks mighty fierce!

13. Almost Complete Dragon Fish Tattoo 

Almost Complete Dragon Fish Tattoo

Photo credit: @badsandytattoo

While the traditional style of Dragon Fish Tattoos is to have the head look like a Dragon and the body look like a Koi Fish, this design takes it to the later stages with the Dragon almost fully formed, yet still incorporating the Koi like qualities onto the design.

This design is super cool showing the final moments before the Dragon will leave the water and fly into the clouds to reign above the skies for the rest of its days. 

Where To Get Your Dragon Fish Tattoo

Dragon Fish design isn’t the only thing that’s important when it comes to getting your new ink.

Placement is equally as important as the correct placement on the body can really bolster your tattoo’s aesthetic. So, let’s dive into the best placements for your Dragon Fish Tattoo designs. 

1. Dragon Fish Tattoo On The Chest

Dragon Fish Tattoo On The Chest

Photo credit: @hontattoostudio

For those who really love to wear their Dragon Fish with pride, go with the chest. The chest offers a lot of space for men on the pectoral muscles across to the shoulders.

This double Dragon Fish Tattoo really shows off how cool the Dragon Fish Tattoo style can be, and I really love the addition of the bracelet and leaves here. 

2. Dragon Fish Tattoo On The Arm

Dragon Fish Tattoo On The Arm

Photo credit: @jamesmullintattoos

If you’re really looking to show off your Dragon Fish Tattoo as much as possible, then go for an arm tattoo.

The arm is one of the best places on the body, and it consistently allows you to show off your ink unless you live in a colder climate. I love the contrast of colors in this Dragon Fish design, as well as the cartoony aesthetic. 

3. The Leg With Dragonfish Tattoo

Leg With Dragonfish Tattoo

Photo credit: @shaltattoostudio

If you’re an avid beachgoer, then the thigh is a great place to get your Dragon Fish Tattoo. The thigh has a lot of space to get a nice-sized tattoo, and it doesn’t hurt that much, either.

The colors in this Dragonfish Tattoo are exceptional, and there is a beautiful contrast between the aqua blue and the red and yellow.  

4. Dragon Fish Tattoo On The Back

Dragon Fish Tattoo On The Back

Photo credit: @justinweatherholtz

If you really want to go wild with your Dragon Fish Tattoo, then go with the back. With so much space, the back is the perfect place to go crazy with your design, making it as large and detailed as you like.

This piece is your quintessential Dragon Fish Tattoo design, but its size is turned all the way up to eleven.


So, we’ve reached the summit of Dragon Fish Tattoo Designs. We hope it has been an enlightening and transformative journey.

With such a surprising amount of Dragon Fish Tattoo designs to choose from, we hope you can evolve your ink to the next level.

But if the Dragon Fish design doesn’t suit you, why not check out these Dragon Koi Tattoo Designs, or if you just prefer the Dragon by itself, why not these Dragon Tattoo ideas, or if you want some different mythical animal designs, check out these red hot Phoenix Tattoo Designs.

Paul Mulligan
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