The image of a fish has many meanings, and depends a lot upon on the setting. Ichthus has long been used as a symbol of Christianity; the image of a koi fish is a symbol of courage, masculinity, and — depending on several other factors such as color, and the amount of koi fish shown — a plethora of other things as well. The god Ea was said to be an amalgamation of a fish and goat, and was the god of wisdom, magic and creativity; he later became the symbol of Capricorn. These are only a few examples to show the vast variety of symbolism available for the use in fish tattoos.
It may be tempting to keep within the lines of some of the deeper meaning fish tattoos; however, the large amount of aesthetically stunning fish available may make you decide on something else entirely. Some of the more interesting examples would be Betta and Discus fish. Betta fish (or Siamese fighting fish) are known for being a bit on the aggressive side, and are often kept in their own tanks. These beautiful fish may become a symbol of a person who believes them self to be something of a loner. Betta fish come in many striking colors; a deep, rich green and blue being the most common. Red, turquoise and even a brilliant, pearlescent white can also be seen. They are also known for their long, banner-like fins, which they puff out as a threat or a sign of courtship. Fish tattoos featuring the Discus can easily be translated to a peaceful, yet sensitive person. These fish are large and round, and have remarkable green, brown and sometimes orange patterns all around their bodies and faces.
Fish tattoos often feature the many myths and spiritual beliefs that this creature stars in. The Greek myth of Aphrodite throwing herself into the ocean, where she transformed was into a fish; Vishnu taking the form of a fish and guiding king Manu’s boat to safety are two great examples. One interesting idea follows the Native American belief that the fish is able to delve into the depths of the human psyche. For this idea, you could use a simple anatomical figure of the head and brain, and depict either a small or long bodied fish pressing itself into the deepest reaches of the mind.
Although fish tattoos are commonly used for their significant meaning, there is certainly something to be said for their varied, colorful, and graceful appearance all unto itself.