Starfish Tattoos: What They Mean And Tattoo Ideas

Color Starfish Wrist Tattoo @ciotka_zu_tattoo

Starfish are one of the most unique animals you can find. While they live in the sea, they don’t have gills; they move, but don’t have a brain, and they can eat outside of their body. These are just some of the fascinating things about these invertebrates.

But, starfish also have interesting symbolism attached to them, making them a great subject for a sea-themed tattoo. 

What Do Starfish Tattoos Mean? 

Mini Color Starfish Tattoo @guseul_tattoo

Transformation And Evolution

One of the most fascinating things about starfish is their ability to regrow limbs – if they lose an arm, it grows back. This regenerative power can be particularly compelling to people who have been through difficult circumstances and have come out the other side.

“This way a starfish tattoo symbolizes change in a positive manner and salvation from tough times. It is also a reminder that you went through some tough times, fought them, and came out victorious,”

Tattoo Easily
Orange Starfish Tattoo @ms.slickmahon

Christianity And Protection

Starfish also have a place in Christianity. Stella Maris is an ancient name given to the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, which means ‘Star of the Sea’. The Virgin Mary can be a symbol of guidance and protection.

“The starfish were believed to create that safe passage through troubled waters, as well as helping to overcome the most trying times. As such, once wearing the starfish tattoos, sailors would benefit from protection, as well as a permanent sign of infinite divine love,”

Saved Tattoo
Realistic Starfish Tattoo @gristletattoo

Trusting Your Instincts

Another meaning behind a starfish tattoo can be instinct. These creatures don’t have brains, but they still need to eat. Starfish are carnivorous – but, without a brain, how are they meant to survive? Instinct. They need to rely on their instinct to be able to make the right moves toward their prey.

So, a tattoo of a starfish can be a reminder not to overthink things, but to instead look towards your gut feeling – your instinct or intuition – to know what the right decision will be. 

Detailed Starfish Tattoo @ricktattoo


Starfish spend a lot of their time clinging to rocks. They are patient and wait for the right opportunity to move. A starfish tattoo can represent tenacity and patience, and being okay with biding your time.

5 Starfish Tattoo Ideas 

Small Fineline Starfish Tattoo @_dudink_

1. Mini Starfish Tattoo

There are many benefits to getting a small tattoo, namely that they’re easy to hide if you can’t show off your ink, and the process of getting one is less of an ordeal than choosing a bigger design. 

Small tattoos use less ink, too. However, a lot depends on how much detail you want in your tattoo design. Starfish need some detail to differentiate them from a standard star tattoo. For example, in the above design, the subtle shading makes it clear that this simple tattoo is of a starfish. 

Even though a tattoo design is simple, it does not mean you should go to an inexperienced artist. In some ways, a small, fine-line tattoo is more challenging than a larger tattoo. This is because, in a small tattoo, less ink is used so if mistakes are made, they’re more prominent – you can’t hide behind more ink.

Starfish And Seahorse Leg Tattoo @kelsey_moore_tattoo

2. Starfish And Seahorse Tattoo

The starfish shares its watery habitat with many other creatures, so if you want more details in your starfish tattoo, a great way to achieve this is by adding another element, making it more of a sea-themed design. 

According to Tattoo SEO,

“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.”

Protection and persistence align well with the guidance aspect of starfish symbolism, making the seahorse an apt addition to a starfish tattoo. 

Starfish And Seashell Tattoo

3. Starfish And Shell Tattoo

Another extra element to add to your starfish tattoo could be a shell, especially if you have a deep love for the ocean. Beachside memories frequently include walking along the sand and exploring rockpools. Shells and starfish often have starring roles in these vacation memories. 

According to Polynesian Tattoo Symbols, a shell tattoo can represent prosperity, union, and,

“…protection. This theme is commonly shared by the motifs representing all the creatures that have a protective shell that acts like a shield: seashells, crabs, turtles.” 

Handpoked Starfish Foot Tattoo @redinctattoo

4. Tribal Starfish Tattoo

Tribal tattoos have a long and fascinating history. Tattooing has been a part of Polynesian cultures for centuries and is seen as a right of passage for many. 

The meanings behind certain designs change from culture to culture, but many of these cultural tattoos represent heritage and achievements. Some tribal tattoos can also be a symbol of protection, power, and strength.

As these cultures have lived near the ocean, many tribal tattoos have sea creature themes.

“…the starfish is a major candidate to be tattooed in this fashion. In addition, the starfish was known as a symbol of protection so those that live on the waters or islands would often have this image tattooed on their person,”

Tattoo SEO
Anchor And Starfish Tattoo

5. Starfish And Anchor Tattoo

Do you love the traditional American sailor tattoo style? Then, an anchor could be the perfect choice to accompany your starfish. 

Anchors were a popular choice among sailors because,

“At sea, the anchor is the most secure object in a sailor’s life, making it the perfect representation of stability,”

Sailor Jerry

This symbol of stability with the starfish’s symbolism of guidance and protection makes these two elements the perfect match.

The sea can be a rough place, just like the rest of the planet, but the starfish perseveres and thrives despite the obstacles around it. We can find deep meaning in the symbolism of the starfish to be patient and trust our instincts.

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