How Much Does a Koi Fish Tattoo Cost?

Written by: Staff

The Koi Fish tattoo is one of the most popular tattoo designs today.  Many people prefer it for its lively and vibrant colors, while others who have an awareness of its symbolic meaning choose it for its masculine and persevering attributes.

This tattoo, according to, has a few meanings, but in general, it’s associated with power, endurance, perseverance and determination because of the legend and the myth.

August 8, 2013 by osseous, on Flickr
August 8, 2013” (CC BY 2.0) by  osseous

How much does it cost to get a koi fish tattoo?

Tattoos are generally priced using one of two methods.  Some tattoo shops charge by the size of the tattoo as well as the number of colors and complexity of the design.  Other shops will charge an hourly fee, which means that the larger the tattoo, the longer it will take to complete and the more you will be charged.

Depending on size, color, location, skill and reputation of the artist, a standard Koi Fish tattoo can cost anywhere from $50 to $100, while a custom design can cost $50 to $300 an hour.  A sleeve could cost upwards of $450 to more than $600+

According to, some tattoo shops charge $50 to $100 per hour, and the rates are dependent on the shop’s operating cost as well as the artist’s time and expertise.

The Alliance of Professional Tattooists at advises against shopping around for the “best price” and suggests seeing examples of an artist’s work, inquiring about their knowledge, and paying an hourly rate for the tattooist’s time and skills.  You should also inquire regarding the cleanliness and processes of the tattoo shop.

Factors that influence the price

Skills of the tattoo artist

Tattoo artists who have developed a reputation normally command higher prices.  The same could be said if you wanted to hire a celebrity, for instance.

Size and details

The larger and the more complex the Koi Fish tattoo design is, the more work it will require, leading to a higher price.  Many artists prefer to complete larger tattoos in two or more sessions.

The location on your body

Some areas of the body, such as scalp, stomach, ankles, and feet, are more difficult to ink.  Artists often demand a higher price to accommodate the request.

Geographical location

Lastly, where you live can heavily affect the price.  Those residing in New York City, for example, could pay much more than someone in a rural town in Iowa.

Koi fish tattoo overview

Getting a small standard Koi Fish tattoo, on average, involves about an hour of chair time, depending on the size, color, placement on the body and the artist’s skill.  A large custom Koi Fish tattoo usually takes more than one sitting to complete.

Any tattoo shop will have pre-made designs you can choose from.  They will then give you the option of placement, whether it be on the arm, back, etc.

After the tattoo is finished, you will be given an ointment that you should put on the site of the tattoo every few hours.  This will keep it from getting dried out or infected.

What are the extra costs?

If you do not like any of the pre-made designs that the tattoo shop offers, you can either design one yourself or ask the artist to design something unique for you.  Depending on the tattoo shop’s policy, a complex Koi Fish tattoo design needing exclusive illustration time may or may not require an additional charge for the extra hours.

Some tattoo artists require a 10 to 25% additional charge for a Koi Fish tattoo done on a difficult part of the body.

Some shops require a deposit of about 50%.

Most tattoo artists are going to expect a tip when your tattoo is finished.  Tips are usually 15 to 20% of the total cost.  A standard tattoo including tip can be in the range of $50 to $100. Custom work plus tip can is in the range can cost $50 to $300 per hour.

Tips to know:

Visit tattoo shops personally and check out the artwork and the overall cleanliness.  It doesn’t hurt to research the shop’s reputation to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Do not haggle.  Quality work often comes with a steep price, especially in the tattooing business.  Instead of asking for a bargain, discuss creating a smaller or less complicated design you can afford.

Make sure that the tattoo shop operates with a license and meets stringent health standards.  Take a tour of the shop and observe their sterilization procedures.

Before you undergo the tattooing procedure, make sure that the tattoo artist washes his hands first and uses disposable surgical gloves.  Insist on seeing them take out a new set of tattooing instruments as this helps to avoid the risk of getting diseases.

The meaning of your tattoo will greatly depend on the colors inside the tattoo.  Popular colors can include red, black, blue and yellow.  Red, for example, is known to be the color of love and can symbolize a very passionate love.  Black, on the other hand, will be associated with a significant transformation or overcoming change.  Yellow can represent good fortune or wealth. has hundreds of koi fish tattoo designs.

How can I save money?

Getting a tattoo is most often an expensive pursuit and for good reason.  It is a time-intensive process that requires highly specialized skills.  If you want to get a koi fish tattoo but cannot afford the artist’s fees, you can either save up for it and go back to the specialist when you are ready, or you can talk about getting an affordable alternative.

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Average Reported Cost: $150

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Less Expensive $1 $1.5K $3K $5K $6.5K More Expensive $8k

How much did you spend?

Was it worth it?  

  1. James (Kansas City,  Missouri) paid $150 and said:

    I was quoted $100 at one place and $150 at another. Ended up going with $150 because of artist credibility.

    Was it worth it? Yes

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