Tropical Paradise: Tropical Fish Nail Art for Summer

Summer is the perfect time to embrace bright, tropical vibes, and what better way to do that than with fun tropical fish nail art? Vibrant designs featuring bettas, goldfish, and more allow you to bring a little slice of an underwater paradise to your nails. Read on to learn how to create stunning tropical fish manicures that are sure to make a splash!

Supplies Needed

Recreating tropical fish on your nails is easy with just a few basic items. Here’s what you’ll need:

Base and Top Coat

nail art supplies

Prepping with base coat and sealing with top coat helps extend the life of your manicure.

Assorted Nail Polish Colors

Grab a variety of brightly colored polishes in coral, turquoise, yellow, orange, blue, and more to depict different fish.

Detail Brush

A thin nail art brush allows you to handle the intricate fin details, scales, and gills.

Striping Brush

This flat, thin brush helps paint fins, tails, and other elongated fish features.

Step-by-Step Instructions

tropical fish nail tutorial

Ready to dive into creating these tropical fish designs? Follow these simple steps:

1. Apply Base Coat

Start by applying base coat to protect nails and help polish adhere.

2. Paint Background Color

Paint your nails in a solid color like light blue or coral to represent the sea.

3. Paint on the Fish

Use your detail brush and colors to paint freehand fish in the center of each nail.

4. Add Fin Details

Use striping brush and contrast colors to paint elegant fins, tails, gills, scales, etc.

5. Outline Shapes

Once dry, outline your fish shapes in black polish to make them pop.

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6. Apply Top Coat

Finish off your underwater nails with a glossy top coat for sheen and longevity.

Design Variations

tropical fish nail designs

The great thing about tropical fish nails is you can get creative with different patterns and styles. Try these unique ideas:

Betta Fish

Paint colorful bettas with long, flowing fins and intricate scales using metallics.

Koi Fish

Incorporate koi fish designs with shimmery oranges, whites, blacks, and yellows.


Use corals, creams, and glitters to depict sweet goldfish with prominent fins.

Minimalist Fish

For a modern look, do minimal fish outlines in thin lines using one or two colors.

Retro Fish

Try colorful, playful fish with geometric details for a fun retro vibe.

Maintenance Tips

nail care tips

Keep your tropical fish nails swimming longer with these easy care tips:

Use Thin Layers of Polish

Thinner layers dry faster and last longer without getting thick and gloppy.

Wrap Your Tips

“Wrapping” your tips as you polish prevents chips and peeling.

Use Cuticle Oil Daily

Massaging in oil keeps cuticles moisturized so polish adheres better.

Avoid Picking at Polished Nails

Picking can pull off layers of color, ruining your fishy design.

Limit Exposure to Water

Reduce unnecessary time in water to prevent polish from lifting or getting “bubbles”.

Complement Your Look

tropical accessories

Finish off your tropical fish mani with coordinating accessories and outfits:

Nautical Stripes

Match your underwater theme with breezy striped tees, tanks, shorts or skirts.

Wooden Accessories

Pair with wooden cuff bracelets, sunglasses, or earrings for an island vibe.

Coral Jewelry

Let your fish pop against natural coral jewelry like long necklaces or stacked bangles.

Beach Bags

Tote a striped bag, straw tote, or colorful beach bag to complement the look.

Light, Flowy Fabrics

Wear flowy maxi dresses, kimonos, or covers ups made of chiffon or gauze.


With their vibrant colors, whimsical details, and tropical vibe, tropical fish nail art designs are so fun for summer. Painting freehand fish on a bright background lets you bring a little underwater paradise to your nails. Get creative with different patterns, fish species, and polish colors. Care for your manicure properly so it lasts, then complete the look with nautical accessories. Your bold, beachy nails will have you yearning for fruity drinks seaside. So grab your brushes and start polishing – it’s time for tropical fish nail art!


What are the easiest tropical fish to paint?

Start with simple goldfish, angelfish, or tang designs if you’re new to nail art. Work up to more detailed bettas and koi.

What polish colors work best?

Try bright corals, turquoises, blues, and shimmery metallics in gold, silver, and copper.

How long does tropical fish nail art last?

Properly prepped and sealed, these designs can last 5-7 days without chipping or wearing away.

What top coat is best?

A fast-drying top coat like Seche Vite helps set your design quickly and extends wear time.

Can I do tropical fish if I have short nails?

Absolutely! Go for smaller, simpler fish on a mini canvas. You can still create beautiful looks.

Kimberly J West
Kimberly J West is an experienced SEO writer and copywriter with a passion for nail art and a love for house plants. With five years of experience, she combines her writing expertise with her creative spirit at Contact Kimberly at for collaborations and inquiries about her writing services.