When debating on your next tattoo, you might have determined you want to get some sort of fish tattoo. However, you might be thinking that everyone has some sort of fish tattoo and you generally see the same stuff.
These would include sharks, eels, bass and other cool-looking animals. Maybe you are looking for something a bit outside the box. One fish that we know is not the common choice but has a great deal of meaning is the seahorse tattoo.
The seahorse tattoo is unique in the sense that people don’t understand the symbolism of the seahorse tattoo and that the meaning has some powerful symbolism. Not only is the symbolism of the seahorse not understood but most people don’t see much of this fish. There aren’t a lot of animal shows about the seahorse so you are talking about a fish that doesn’t get much attention. This is why when you see a seahorse tattoo, you are probably wondering what made them get that tattoo. This is what we are talking about in this post.
This post is going to be your source of not only information on the seahorse tattoo meaning but on seahorses themselves. Such a fascinating animal deserves its own post and we are going to talk about the seahorse tattoo meaning as well as some different variations of the seahorse tattoo and what it symbolizes for those that have it.
About the Seahorse
Seahorses are a type of tiny fish with a horse-like head but a body of a fish and a prehensile tail. Their genus Hippocampus is named after an ancient creature whose image has been connected to the Greek myth of the sea horse or Hippocampus. A seahorse-like creature, it was large and powerful with the front legs and head of a horse but with webbed feet rather than hooves.
This mythological sea creature was featured ubiquitously in Greek, Roman, and Etruscan artwork rendered in gold, silver, ivory and other fine materials because of the seahorse’s majesty in the sea. There are dozens of types of seahorses, allowing the individual a variety of styles, colors, and patterns to work with.
A fascinating fact about the seahorse is that during the mating season, the courtship of the seahorse starts with a dance where the female and male dance together or swim around in unison. This process could happen for several days every morning and the last dance they conduct before the meeting could last up to eight hours straight.
To the prey of the seahorse, they are skilled assassins. The seahorse has a head that is shaped to be aerodynamic and shaped in a way that can’t be detected when looking for food. They are sneaky and quietly flow about the water with impressive hunting prowess as they have a 90% kill rate for successful hunts. They have to be efficient because food travels through their system at a fast rate so the seahorse is always on the hunt.
For fish, the seahorse is an awful swimmer and that is because they only fins that are really small on their back. It is their only way to move about and if the seas get rough, the seahorse has been known to die from exhaustion if they are working too hard.
Seahorse Tattoo Meaning
The seahorse is a symbol of many things including tranquility, tenderness, regality, parenthood, and gender fluidity. In addition, seahorses carry symbolism that carries some meanings including protection, friendliness, generosity, sharing, patience, contentment, perception and persistence.
The contentment comes from the lack of evolution of the seahorse. Seahorses have largely had the same body style since the inception of these interesting creatures. Not feeling the need to change, and content to be who they are, the seahorse can teach us some lessons in life.
On the other hand, because of the seahorse’s carefree approach to progress and their resistance to change, the seahorse tattoo can also symbolize being stubborn. In rough waters, the seahorse will wrap its little tale around anything it can hold onto as to not get carried away or to stand their ground. Stubborn but persistent is one way to describe the seahorse.
In Greek mythology, the seahorse is an attribute of the sea and horse god Poseidon and is seen as a regal and majestic creature. The seahorse takes Poseidon’s reign of horses and the sea as one authority, combining the essence of land and water into one symbol. The seahorse is a powerful creature in this way that represents an innate and ancient wisdom and knowledge of the Earth.
On its own, the seahorse is an interesting and attractive symbol that is immediately associated with calm, blue waters and coral. A bright rainbow of inks is generally used to color the seahorse along with the sea life that may be included in larger pieces.
Their unusual bodies have been subject to myths in many cultures that have taken advantage of their uniqueness. For example, in Maori, a seahorse-like figure called the Manaia is often used in motifs and jewelry designs because of its beautiful shape. The head of the seahorse mimics the shape of a horse which draws the symbology of majesty and swiftness.
The curled body is unlike other fish and allows it to fit into mythology which can explain the shape. The hippocampus is a literal horse with forelegs and the curled tail of a seahorse which is meant to represent prowess in the sea. They have also been seen as a symbol of good luck, a charm to sailors that predicts a safe voyage.
The seahorse has been used in Celtic mythology as well and has been rendered in artwork in Irish history as a Hippocampus-like sea creature. The seahorse served as a symbol of protection and strength as well as creativity given their ability to procreate abundantly and rapidly. Many Hippocampus tattoos that are meant to emulate the Celtic myth utilize the horse head, with or without the forelegs, and a complex Celtic knot winding around the body in place of the tail.
The adaptability of the seahorse is a unique quality that is not held by many other fish. Both male and female seahorses have the ability to become impregnated because of their hermaphroditic reproductive organs. Seahorses are androgynous in this way and represent a disregard for traditional gender roles and expectations. Furthermore, they have the chameleon-like ability to change color when threatened, blending into their environment to camouflage themselves from danger. In this way, the seahorse is a symbol of fluidity and the ability to adapt to any situation.
Seahorses are a great symbol of fatherhood because of the male’s ability to carry the eggs to gestation. Once the eggs are laid, the father remains to protect them and ensure at least some of his offspring can survive. This is unusual and unique to seahorses as other fish abandon their eggs when expelled. In this way, they are a symbol of the protection and devotion of parenthood. Seahorses have become a representation of dedication in fatherhood, leading new and experienced fathers to receive the design as a tribute to their parental role.
Seahorse Tattoo Variations
Seahorse tattoo designs can be rendered in a variety of ways, with beautiful, vibrant colors or in greywash with an emphasis on the realistic scaled pattern seen in nature. Hippocampus tattoo designs are usually larger pieces that involve an ocean scene with waves or other creatures. To create a Greek style, the silhouette of the creature can be used with white highlighting. Tribal-style seahorse designs are often chosen as well because of their unique frame that does not rely on additional detail to remain visually interesting.
Seahorses are a recognizable figure because of how unique they are and can be rendered very simply. Minute seahorse tattoo designs do not require much detail to create the figure of the fish and can be done delicately for those who want a smaller tattoo. For larger designs, other ocean imagery can be added with the seahorse to represent the calm environment that rests below ocean waves and storms.
New School Seahorse Tattoo
Seahorses look like silly creatures as it is so to have a new school seahorse tattoo seems to fit. This cartoonish style fits well with a fish that can barely swim. It is ironic and we think the seahorse deserves this style of tattooing. The seahorse is also a strange-looking fish so tattooing the seahorse in this method works well with the look and story of the seahorse.
Watercolor Seahorse Tattoo
The watercolor style also seems to be a perfect fit for the seahorse tattoo. The magical and whimsical style of tattooing in the watercolor style is a perfect match for a fish that is truly unique. The seahorse looks like something that came straight out of the storybooks so the watercolor style is one that will get everyone’s attention.
Seahorse Heart Tattoo
Many choose to get the seahorse tattoo to represent love. There are many reasons that seahorses represent love but the main reason is because of their courtship process in which they dance with each other for hours on end. In addition, when you face two seahorses towards each other, they look to form a heart so it fits the symbolism. We don’t know if the chicken came before the egg in this case but we think it is a cool coincidence that two seahorses look just like a heart.
Regardless of origin or mythology, the seahorse is an ancient fish with unique abilities and incredible parentage instincts. They have existed in the sea for millions of years, evolving over time which adds to their incredible adaptability. Sightings in the wild are rare because of their camouflage and so spotting one in the water is truly good luck. Seahorse designs can be rendered in an animated style with softer colors to feminize the image. Soft blues and violets are added to the background to create more interest and a more detailed design.
Before you get your seahorse tattoo, make sure the person doing it has some experience in tattooing animals. It isn’t something that everyone is good at so take your time in your research and make sure you are comfortable with the artist you choose. Let us know if you need help in your search because we have over 10 years of experience in matching customers to artists.