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Why Are Goldfish Considered Lucky?

Have you ever wondered why goldfish are among the most popular pets in the world? One reason is because they are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity to the homes that take care of them. The design of the goldfish is also quite popular in use as charms and pendants to those who can’t really raise them as pets. But how did this all come about? Let’s find out.

Goldfish meaning and symbolism

History of Lucky Goldfish

Various cultures consider fish to bring good luck. That’s why many religions have a certain admiration and even near worship for the animal. Fish has been a recurring animal in Christianity, with the fish being an early symbol for Christ.

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Meanwhile in Buddhism, it is said that 2 golden fish were offered to Buddha after his enlightenment. These represent the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers, which are both located in India. These are thought to symbolize living fearlessly, happily, and abundantly.

Two goldfish
  • Goldfish in Chinese Culture

In the Chinese culture, fish symbolize abundance because of the way they are able to reproduce abundantly in a short period of time. Also, according to Feng Shui, the Chinese word for fish is pronounced the same way as the word for abundance. Because of the Chinese culture’s widespread reverence of fish as symbols of luck, it is no wonder the concept of the lucky goldfish came from the Chinese. 

Goldfish were first bred in China during the Tang Dynasty. The goldfish is a member of the carp family, but goldfish have been confused with koi because of their color. However, koi fish are usually larger and therefore cannot be contained in a small aquarium. 

The simplest way to explain why goldfish are considered lucky in China is because of its gold color. The golden color of this particular fish is associated with actual gold. Moreover, the goldfish’ graceful movements are also believed to create good energy where the aquarium is. According to Feng Shui:

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  • The number of goldfish in an aquarium must be kept at 8 to bring positivity.
  • A minimum of 2 goldfish in your fish bowl is acceptable, because it is believed to bring harmony in a relationship.
  • A black goldfish is also included in the mix to ward off bad luck.

However, goldfish nowadays tend to be more orange than gold. That’s because the Ancient Chinese associate the color yellow or gold with the royal family, hence only members of the imperial court could own actual goldfish. Commoners were then forced to breed orange goldfish if they also wanted to reap its lucky properties.

  • Goldfish in Japanese Culture

Chinese traders were also the ones who brought in goldfish to Japan, hence the same belief that goldfish bring good fortune, wealth, and harmony passed on to them. Furthermore, the Japanese also believe that goldfish bless couples not just with harmony, but with children, too. Goldfish in Japan are most often red and black. The red goldfish brings luck, while the black ones repel misfortune. 

Goldfish have also become a part of the Japanese’s summer festivals and other religious holidays in the form of goldfish scooping. In fact, they even have a national competition for the said practice! The origins of this scooping competition remain unknown but enthusiasts believe that it is significant to forge a special bond with peers and also to teach children on how to be gentle and polite.

  • Goldfish and Europe

Europe also has not been spared from the trend of lucky goldfish. In the 1620s, goldfish became a popular gift for the first-year anniversary of a married couple, especially for Southern Europeans. The belief was that the couple would be blessed with good fortune and with children.

Meaning and Symbolism of Goldfish

The meaning of goldfish has transcended time while maintaining its diversity across different cultures in the world. These include the following:

  • Wealth and Prosperity – It’s believed that goldfish bring wealth and prosperity because of their golden color and the similarity of the Chinese words for fish and abundance.
  • Harmony – Two goldfish kept as pets are thought to bring harmony for couples and for families in general.
  • Positivity – According to Feng Shui, eight goldfish in the aquarium brings positivity in the area where it is placed.
  • Ward Against Bad Luck – This specifically applies to black goldfish. Both Chinese and Japanese cultures believe that adding one black goldfish to your aquarium helps defend your home against bad luck.
  • Blesses Couples With Children – Goldfish represent fertility and abundance because of the way they reproduce. Having goldfish at home or giving goldfish as a gift to a couple or person is seen as a blessing for the person to have children.

Goldfish in Jewelry and Fashion

Not everyone can take care of goldfish at home. That’s why most people are content with wearing the symbol of goldfish as charms, pendants, and even patterns for clothing. Below is a list of the editor’s top picks featuring the goldfish symbol.

Editor's Top Picks
Goldfish Necklace - 14K Gold Filled Fish Pendant Choker - Elegant Summer...
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MANZHEN 2-Color Goldfish in a Bowl Necklace Novelty Necklaces (Rose gold Fish)
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Amosfun Resin Goldfish Koi Fish Necklace Creative Transparent Water Bag Fish Pendant...
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Last update was on: November 29, 2023 6:31 am

There is a trend where goldfish patterns and images are depicted on all kinds of clothing. There are also those who’ve used the actual shape of goldfish in creating quirky bags to bring good luck. 

A goldfish is also a pretty popular pattern for tattoo artists and enthusiasts. Some women particularly love inking goldfish onto their skin because of its minimalist design. Others get it in an “irezumi” style tattoo, which is a style for goldfish tattoos popular in Japan. 

In Brief 

Although, the concept of goldfish as lucky symbols is much more popular in Asian cultures because of the influence of Feng Shui, in general, goldfish have become a favorite pet and a positive symbol around the world. Their natural beauty and grace make them a joy to have around and the added symbolism is the icing on the cake.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.