What Do Goldfish Symbolize? Exploring the Deeper Meanings Behind These Beloved Aquatic Creatures

Have you ever wondered what the beloved goldfish truly symbolizes? We see them swimming in our homes, on TV, and in the wild, but what do they mean? These shimmering creatures have been featured in artwork, literature, and mythology throughout history. So why are they so important, and what do they symbolize?

Goldfish symbolize wealth, prosperity, and good fortune in many cultures. They were first bred in China over a thousand years ago exclusively for their beauty. The Chinese believed that their brilliant gold scales represented abundance and prosperity, and often gave them as gifts to friends and family. Today, the goldfish is still a symbol of good luck in Chinese culture, and many people still believe that keeping them in your home or office can bring money and success.

Over time, the symbol of the goldfish has evolved into something more complex. In Western cultures, they have become symbols of transformation, perseverance, and even enlightenment. Their ability to survive and thrive in small tanks or bowls despite their small size has been interpreted as a metaphor for overcoming obstacles. Additionally, the goldfish is often used to represent the healing power of water and the calming effects of nature, making them a popular decorative item in spas and wellness centers. Regardless of where you come from, the goldfish remains one of the most beloved creatures in the world, thanks to its endless charm and timeless symbolism.

The History of Goldfish as a Symbol

Goldfish have been a popular symbol in many cultures throughout history. Depicted in art, literature, and folklore, these fish symbolize a wide range of concepts from good luck and prosperity to transformation and rebirth.

Here is a brief overview of goldfish symbolism in different cultures:

  • China: Goldfish are a symbol of good luck, fortune, and abundance. The Chinese word for goldfish, “jin yu,” sounds similar to the word for wealth, “jin yu,” making them a popular symbolic gift for businesses and individuals.
  • Japan: Goldfish represent transformation and perseverance. They are often associated with the festival of Tanabata, where people write their wishes on strips of paper and hang them on bamboo branches with paper goldfish.
  • Europe: In the Middle Ages, goldfish were a symbol of resurrection and Christ’s triumph over death. They were also associated with alchemy and the transformation of base metals into gold.

Beyond their symbolic meanings, goldfish have also had practical uses throughout history. In ancient China, goldfish were kept in outdoor ponds as a natural way to control mosquito populations. In Japan, goldfish were bred for their ornamental qualities and became a popular decorative object in households and gardens.

Goldfish in Chinese Culture

Goldfish have been a symbol of good luck, wealth, and prosperity in Chinese culture for centuries. They are often kept as pets in small bowls or ponds and are regarded as a symbol of abundance and prosperity.

  • Goldfish are a popular New Year’s gift in Chinese culture, as they are believed to bring luck and prosperity in the coming year. The gift of goldfish implies a wish for abundance and prosperity in the recipient’s future.
  • In Feng Shui, a goldfish symbolizes abundance and wealth. A pair of goldfish is recommended to be kept in the living room or office space to attract wealth and abundance in one’s life.
  • During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), goldfish were highly prized and owned mainly by the wealthy and elite members of society. They were kept in ornate fishbowls and considered a luxurious status symbol.

Symbolism of the Number 2 in Chinese Culture

In Chinese culture, the number 2 is considered to be lucky and auspicious. It is believed that everything is better in pairs, as two represents harmony, balance, and unity.

The number 2 is often associated with the yin-yang symbol, which represents the balance of opposing forces. In Chinese mythology, the universe was divided into two opposing yet complementary forces, yin and yang, which together create perfect harmony.

Symbolism of the number 2 in Chinese cultureExamples
Harmony and balanceThe yin-yang symbol
Auspiciousness and luckThe double happiness symbol, which is commonly used in Chinese weddings
Unity and togethernessThe concept of “er ren tai,” which means “the existence of two people creates a world”

When used together, the goldfish and the number 2 represent abundance and harmony. Pairing two goldfish together is believed to bring even greater wealth and prosperity into one’s life, making it a popular choice in Chinese symbolism and Feng Shui.

Goldfish in Japanese Culture

Goldfish are a common sight in Japan, with their origins traced back to the 16th century. Known for their vibrant colors, graceful movements, and elegant design, goldfish are seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. They have an important place in Japanese culture and are featured in various art forms and festivals. Here, we explore the significance of goldfish in Japanese culture, with a focus on their representation in different aspects of Japanese society.

The Number 3 and Goldfish

In Japanese culture, the number three holds a significant place and is associated with good luck. The number three is believed to represent balance and harmony, and it is considered auspicious in many rituals and traditions. When it comes to goldfish, the number three is associated with the determination and pursuit of goals, as these fish possess innate perseverance and are known to swim upstream against a current.

Also, goldfish in Japanese culture have three symbolic meanings; harmony, longevity and good fortune. They are often arranged in groups of three in ponds or aquariums, and it is believed that having three goldfish in one setting is a powerful charm for good luck and prosperity. Beyond this, the Japanese have a proverb – “Three men make a tiger” – which suggests that three people agreeing on something is enough to make it seem true, regardless of whether it is actually factual.

Goldfish in Japanese Art

Goldfish have a significant presence in the world of Japanese art. They are often depicted in paintings, sculptures, and ceramics, and are a common motif in Japanese design. The nature of goldfish symbolizes the qualities of life in a material and emotional setting, making it a popular subject in a wide variety of art forms. In traditional Japanese paintings (nihonga), goldfish are often portrayed in vivid and bright colors, which is thought to bring good luck. Additionally, goldfish also feature in ukiyo-e prints, a type of woodblock print that was used to decorate homes during the Edo period. These prints often depict goldfish in exciting settings such as summer festivals and delicately decorated bowls.

Goldfish in Japanese Festivals

Goldfish are also a part of various festivals and celebrations in Japan. The most notable of these is the Kingyō-sukui or “goldfish scoop” festival. During this festival, participants try to catch goldfish using a small paper scoop called a poi and take them home as souvenirs. The goldfish scooping game is believed to have originated from the Edo period, where it was played by children. Other festivals that have a goldfish theme include the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Sumida River Fireworks Festival in Tokyo. In these festivals, goldfish lanterns and sculptures are lit up and showcased for all to enjoy. The Goldfish Festival in Tokyo is another popular event, where visitors can watch goldfish swimming competitions and view elaborate goldfish ponds featuring exotic species from around the world.


Goldfish may seem like an ordinary pet for some, but in Japan, these fish hold a very special place in the cultural fabric of the country. They are revered for their beauty, elegance, and symbolic meanings and can be found in various forms of art and decorations. The number three holds particular significance in Japanese culture, and it is tied to the values that goldfish represent – perseverance, harmony, and good fortune. Festivals such as the Kingyō-sukui Festival and the Sumida River Fireworks Festival celebrate the iconic Japanese goldfish, showcasing the rich and vibrant culture of Japan.

Symbolism of Goldfish in Art

Throughout history, goldfish have been a popular subject for artists. In many cultures, they are seen as highly symbolic creatures, representing various virtues and ideas. Here, we explore the symbolism of goldfish in art.

Number 4: The Four Seasons

In many traditional Chinese artistic representations, goldfish are used to represent the four seasons. This is because goldfish change color according to the temperature of their surroundings, making them a natural symbol for the changing of the seasons. In Chinese art, goldfish are often depicted swimming in a shallow pool, with each fish representing a different season.


The use of goldfish to represent the four seasons is a beautiful and meaningful tradition that has been carried on for centuries. It reflects the importance of nature and the changing of the seasons in Chinese culture.

Goldfish in Literature and Poetry

Goldfish are not only significant in real-life culture, but also in the literary world. These small creatures have been portrayed in various ways in literature and poetry throughout history. Here are some examples:

  • Virginia Woolf used the goldfish as a symbol in her novel “To the Lighthouse” to depict the inability of humans to truly understand one another.
  • The poem “Goldfish” by Amy Lowell describes the beauty and significance of goldfish in a fishbowl.
  • Japanese Haiku poets often wrote about the goldfish which were bred in China during the Tang dynasty and later introduced to Japan.

Goldfish can be used to convey many different meanings in literature. The swirling colors and delicacy of their fins can represent beauty, while their confinement can symbolize imprisonment. The goldfish can also be seen as a peaceful, calming presence in the midst of chaos.

In addition to literature, goldfish have also been featured in poetry. The unique and colorful appearance of goldfish fascinates poets, who often use them as a beautiful metaphor for life. The goldfish can also symbolize love and prosperity, particularly in Chinese and Japanese cultures.

Goldfish also have significance for Islamic poets, who see them as a symbol of the divine. In Islamic art and poetry, the goldfish is often depicted swimming in a pool beneath a pomegranate tree, representing Paradise and the abundance of blessings awaiting the faithful.

Virginia WoolfTo the LighthouseGoldfish are used as a symbol to depict the inability of humans to truly understand one another.
Amy LowellGoldfishThe poem describes the beauty and significance of goldfish in a fishbowl.

Overall, goldfish hold an important role in literature and poetry throughout history. Whether as a symbol of beauty, love, or freedom, these small creatures have captured the imaginations of writers and poets alike.

Significance of Goldfish in Feng Shui

Goldfish, with their bright colors and graceful movements, have long been associated with good fortune and prosperity. This is particularly true in the practice of Feng Shui, where they are considered one of the most powerful symbols of wealth and abundance.

There are many different ways in which goldfish are believed to enhance the energy in a home or workplace. One of the most important is through their connection to the number 6.

The Number 6

  • The number 6 is considered extremely auspicious in Feng Shui, and is associated with all forms of prosperity and good luck.
  • Goldfish are often used to represent the number 6, as their Chinese pronunciation (“liu”) is a homophone for “flow” or “prosperity”.
  • For this reason, it is common to see arrangements of six or more goldfish in homes and businesses, as a way of attracting wealth and abundance.

Placing Goldfish in Feng Shui

When it comes to placing goldfish in your home or workplace, there are several important guidelines to follow:

  • Goldfish should always be kept in a clean, well-maintained aquarium or fishbowl, as dirty or stagnant water can have negative effects on energy.
  • The aquarium should be placed in an area of the home or office that is associated with wealth or prosperity, such as the southeast corner of the room.
  • It is important to always keep six or more goldfish in the aquarium, to ensure that the number 6 is represented.
  • Finally, it is essential to take good care of the goldfish, as their health and well-being is seen as a reflection of the prosperity and happiness of the household or business.


For those looking to enhance their prosperity and abundance, goldfish are a powerful symbol in the practice of Feng Shui. By following these simple guidelines, it is possible to create a harmonious and prosperous environment that will attract wealth, success, and happiness into your life.

PlacementNumber of GoldfishGlass or Ceramic Bowl
Living Room8Glass
Office Desk3 or 9Ceramic

Remember to follow these guidelines and trust in the power of goldfish to bring abundance and prosperity into your life.

Spirituality and Goldfish Symbolism

The goldfish has long been associated with spirituality and various beliefs across different cultures and religions. In Buddhism, goldfish are symbolic of good fortune, prosperity, and harmony. While in Feng Shui, the goldfish is believed to attract positive energy or “chi”.

One fascinating aspect of goldfish symbolism is the significance placed on the number 7. This number is considered lucky in many cultures and religions, and its association with the goldfish further emphasizes its importance:

  • Seven goldfish are often given as a gift to newlywed couples in China, representing a wish for a lifetime of happiness and good luck together.
  • In Feng Shui, seven goldfish are said to attract wealth and abundance, promoting financial success and prosperity.
  • In Christianity, the number seven is considered a divine number, and it is said that a goldfish in a dream can symbolize a spiritual awakening or a deeper connection with a higher power.

Beyond its connection with the number 7, the goldfish also holds a particular significance in Japanese culture. Many Japanese temples have ponds stocked with goldfish, and the fish are often released into the water as a symbolic gesture of returning a part of one’s self to nature. Japanese legend also tells of a koi fish that swims upstream and eventually transforms into a dragon, representing a journey of transformation and personal growth.

In conclusion, goldfish symbolism is a complex and fascinating topic that has endured for centuries. Whether you are drawn to the spiritual and mystical aspects of goldfish symbolism or simply appreciate their vibrant colors and graceful movements, there is much to explore and learn about these beloved creatures.

Good fortune, prosperity, and harmonyBuddhism
Attract positive energy or “chi”Feng Shui
Signifies a spiritual awakening or a deeper connection with a higher powerChristianity
Returning a part of one’s self to natureJapanese culture
Transformation and personal growthJapanese legend

Goldfish in Mythology and Folklore

Goldfish have been a part of mythology and folklore in various cultures across the world, taking on different interpretations and significances throughout history. Here are some of the most notable examples:

  • China: In Chinese mythology, the goldfish is associated with abundance, luck, and happiness. The number eight, which is considered lucky in Chinese culture, is also closely tied to goldfish. This is because the Chinese word for “eight” sounds similar to the word for “prosperity” or “wealth”, and the shape of the number eight resembles the infinity symbol, which symbolizes endless prosperity. As a result, goldfish are often kept in aquariums or bowls in homes and businesses to attract success and good fortune.
  • Japan: In Japan, the goldfish is seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune, and is often included in traditional Japanese festivals and artwork. In some Japanese legends, the goldfish is believed to possess magical powers, able to grant wishes and bring happiness to those who keep them.
  • Europe: In Europe, goldfish were introduced in the 16th century and were initially seen as a luxury item, reserved for the wealthy and aristocratic. However, they soon became popular as pets among the general population, and in Victorian England, goldfish were seen as a symbol of refinement and elegance.

Overall, goldfish have come to represent different things in different cultures, but are often associated with good fortune, prosperity, and happiness.

As mentioned earlier, the number eight is particularly significant when it comes to goldfish symbolism in Chinese culture. Below is a table that illustrates the different associations that the number eight has with goldfish:

8Prosperity, wealth, abundance
88Double luck and fortune
888Triple luck and fortune

Clearly, the goldfish’s association with the number eight in Chinese culture is a key aspect of its symbolism and significance.

The Role of Goldfish in Astrology and Horoscopes

Goldfish have had a significant role in astrology and horoscopes for centuries. These fish are considered to be symbolic of good luck, fortune, wealth, and prosperity. They are also associated with the Chinese zodiac sign of Pisces and the planet Jupiter.

  • The number 9 is of great significance in Chinese culture, and this number is closely linked to goldfish in astrology. The number 9 is considered lucky and represents long life, good fortune, and prosperity. This is because the Chinese word for ‘nine’ is similar to the word for ‘long-lasting’ or ‘eternal.’ For this reason, many people believe that keeping goldfish in the home or office can bring good luck and wealth.
  • In Chinese astrology, goldfish are associated with the zodiac sign Pisces. Pisces is the twelfth sign in the Chinese zodiac, and those born under this sign are said to be imaginative, compassionate, and artistic. This sign is also linked to the planet Jupiter, which is associated with abundance, generosity, and good fortune. Goldfish are believed to enhance the positive qualities of those born under the sign of Pisces.
  • In addition to their association with Chinese astrology, goldfish are also linked to feng shui, the Chinese system of arranging buildings and objects to maximize positive energy flow. According to feng shui principles, goldfish are believed to attract wealth and abundance, and they are often recommended as a symbol of prosperity for businesses and homes.

Goldfish have also been used in divination and fortune-telling. Some fortune-tellers believe that the number of goldfish in a pond or tank can predict future events, and the movement and behavior of the fish can reveal important information about the future.

Gold colorWealth and prosperity
Round bodyCompleteness and wholeness
Flowing fins and tailSmooth and harmonious energy flow

Goldfish have been an important part of astrology and horoscopes for centuries, and their symbolism continues to be revered today.

Interpretation of Dreams Involving Goldfish

Dreams have long been considered a window into our subconscious, and the symbols and images within them offer clues to our deepest desires and fears. Goldfish are a common sight in dreams, and they can represent a variety of things depending on the context. Here, we explore what goldfish symbolize in dreams, as well as their cultural significance and spiritual meanings.

  • Abundance and prosperity: Goldfish have long been associated with good fortune and wealth in many cultures, and they can represent financial abundance and material success in dreams. Seeing a tank filled with goldfish can indicate that your financial and material needs are being met, and that you are experiencing a period of growth and abundance.
  • Emotional healing: Goldfish are often associated with emotional healing and growth, and they can represent the need to be more open and vulnerable in your relationships. If you dream of caring for and nurturing goldfish, it may indicate that you are ready to open yourself up to others and allow yourself to be vulnerable.
  • Sense of adventure: Goldfish are known for their curious and adventurous nature, and they can represent the need to explore new opportunities or take risks in your waking life. If you dream of swimming with goldfish or observing them in a natural environment, it may indicate that you are feeling adventurous and ready to take on new challenges.

In addition to their symbolic meanings in dreams, goldfish have a rich cultural and spiritual history that sheds light on their significance.

For example, goldfish have been kept as pets in China for over a thousand years, and they are often associated with good fortune and prosperity in Chinese culture. The number 10 is considered particularly lucky in Chinese numerology, and a common practice is to keep 10 goldfish in a tank to attract good luck and positive energy.

Number of GoldfishMeaning
2Harmony and balance
5Health and wellness
8Wealth and prosperity
9Longevity and happiness
10Luck and good fortune

Goldfish also hold spiritual significance in many cultures, such as in Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduism, the goldfish is believed to represent fertility and abundance, while in Buddhism it is seen as a symbol of transformation and spiritual awakening.

Ultimately, the meaning of goldfish in dreams and in life is deeply subjective and personal, and can vary depending on your individual experiences and cultural background. However, by exploring their symbolic meanings and cultural significance, we can gain a deeper appreciation for these beautiful and fascinating creatures.

What do goldfish symbolize?

Q: What do goldfish symbolize in Chinese culture?
A: In Chinese culture, goldfish symbolize good luck, wealth, and prosperity. They are often portrayed in artwork and given as gifts to wish someone financial success.

Q: What do goldfish symbolize in Western culture?
A: In Western culture, goldfish are often seen as a symbol of relaxation, tranquility, and mindfulness. Watching their leisurely swim can have a calming effect on the mind.

Q: What do goldfish symbolize in art?
A: Goldfish are a popular subject in art because they represent a variety of themes. They can symbolize good luck, beauty, peacefulness, and innocence. Their vibrant colors and unique patterns also make them a visually striking motif.

Q: What do goldfish symbolize in literature?
A: Goldfish are often used in literature to symbolize transformation and growth. They can represent the potential for change and development, as well as the idea that beauty can arise from humble beginnings.

Q: What do goldfish in a dream symbolize?
A: Seeing a goldfish in a dream can represent various things, such as good luck, prosperity, success, and spiritual insights. The meaning depends on the context of the dream and the dreamer’s personal associations with goldfish.

Q: What do goldfish symbolize in feng shui?
A: In feng shui, goldfish are believed to enhance positive energy in a home or office. They are thought to promote wealth, prosperity, and good luck. However, it is important to follow specific guidelines for keeping goldfish in feng shui, such as keeping multiples of nine and ensuring they are well-cared for.

Q: What do goldfish symbolize as tattoos?
A: Goldfish tattoos can have different meanings depending on the design and placement. They are a popular choice for aquatic-themed tattoos and can represent harmony, balance, and adaptability. They can also symbolize personal growth and the pursuit of inner peace.

The Beauty of Goldfish Symbolism

Goldfish may seem like simple creatures, but their symbolism spans across cultures and artistic expressions. Whether you believe in their ability to bring good luck or find solace in watching their graceful swim, there is no denying the allure of these colorful fish. As you go about your day, keep an eye out for goldfish and appreciate the beauty of their symbolism. Thanks for reading, and we hope you visit again soon for more fascinating insights.