Carp, Koi + Goldfish

鯉魚 · [ lǐyú ]

With about 3000 species, the carp fish (Cyprinidae) are the largest known fish family. Its most famous family members are probably the Japanese koi and the beloved goldfish. Most representatives of the carp family can become more than 50 years old with appropriate husbandry! Therefore, these animals are widely known as a symbol for longevity

In symbolic Feng Shui carps are, like fish in general, representing prosperity, abundance and wealth. Not only because fish lay many eggs and are known for their fertility, but also because the word fish (yù) sounds similar to the word aboundance (yù). In addition, the carp is associated with business success, financial benefit,  past exams and success. Also this symbolism is based on the auditory similarity of the two words carp (lǐ) and benefit (lǐ).

Chinese folklore tells the story of a heroic carp, swimming upstream the yellow river, against the river’s strong current, passes all the rapids and, at the end of his journey, is even brave enough to jump over the legendary Dragon’s Gate . Doing so he transforms immediately into a powerful Dragon. This remarkable performance is frequently depicted in Chinese Art and compared with big examination success and seen as a symbol perseverance

This story is also popular in Japan, where, at the 5th of may, proud parents raise colorful carp-shaped wind socks  (koinobori) to celebrate the “Children’s Day. This symbol stands for a good future and the hope that the kids will grow up healthy and strong. Traditionally this ritual was called boy’s day and the set of wind socks would contain a black one representing the father, followed by a smaller, red koinobori representing his eldest son, and so on. After a government’s decree the name was changed and the holiday came to celebrate the happiness of both boys and girls in various colors.

In Japan carps are highly appreciated in general – what also shows in the price they are willing to pay for rare and noble specimens. More precisely we’re talking about Kois (koi carps), a must have in every pond promising happiness and wealth

The goldfish is an another, very popular member of the carp family. Its red body color symbolizes happiness and vitality - the word gold on his name makes wealth even more tangible.

Carp fish should be kept in groups, because they naturally appear in schools and have a very sociable character. According Taoist practice the ideal amount of animals in an aquarium is nine, whereby one of the fish ought be black. To symbolize love and romance

one tend to keep a single pair - in that case, to guarantee a type-fair holding, I’d rather suggest to use a pictorial representation or a sculpture instead.


> Usage of the symbol

Carps symbolize a long, wealthy and successful life. No wonder that these animals are so popular throughout East Asia and found in almost every household. You should use the lively power of this enchanting symbol as well. 

A strategically right placed aquarium with real fish can do real wonders. A hanging fish mobile or a beautiful art print is equally effective. In the entrance area, carps can literally lure in good fortune and prosperity, but they can help also in the living room and along the North, East - or South-East side of your home. Also suitable places are the wealth corner (Bagua n° 4) and the are representing your career (Bagua n° 1). 

However, you should avoid using the carp symbol in your bedroom or the kitchen, otherwise you run the risk of extinguishing the fire in stove or bed ...

For an overview of other fish, related hybrid creatures and mythological figures see:


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