Elements in Astrology: All About Water Signs

Written by Dayva Segal
Published: December 8, 2023
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Each sign of the zodiac is associated with one of four elements: fire, earth, air, or water. Each element brings different qualities to the signs. Even if you don’t know much about a specific zodiac sign, if you know the element, you can intuit certain qualities.

There are three signs to each element. On the zodiac wheel, there are three signs in between each sign of the same element, meaning they are four signs apart.

When talking about elements, people are often referring to their Sun sign. However, the sign of any planet or angle also has an element.

Modalities and Elements

In addition to the elements, each sign is also assigned to one of four modalities. These modalities describe a quality of the sign that relates to leadership qualities and flexibility. The modalities are generally tied to the seasons:

  • Cardinal signs come at the beginning of a season and are associated with leadership.
  • Fixed signs are in the middle of a season and are good at getting things done.
  • Mutable signs occur when the seasons are changing and are quite flexible.

The three signs of each element have one sign in each modality. So, there is one cardinal fire sign, one mutable fire sign, and one fixed fire sign.

Qualities of Water Signs in Astrology

Water Sign Quality: Emotional

Tired Young Woman Leaning Head on Hands

To more logic-based signs, water signs can seem emotional.

©MangoStar_Studio/iStock via Getty Images

Water signs are all about emotion. Stereotypes about water signs include that they are pushovers or crybabies, but that is not necessarily the truth. Don’t underestimate a water sign. Think about the power of water in nature. It can be a bubbling brook, a happy spring, or a lazy river. However, it can also be a torrential flood with massive destructive power. The forces of the ocean are also deep, mysterious, and full of danger. Water signs can be calm and flowing until something crosses them, then the waters will flood.

Emotions flow with a water sign. However, if they have unprocessed trauma, they can dam up their emotions and become completely emotionally unavailable. This prevents them from creating the deep and involved connections they desire so strongly. Over time, the suppressed emotions become overwhelming, and the water sign person may turn to unhealthy outlets to keep them suppressed.

In general, water signs have a way of making people feel safe to open up. Because they have a strong understanding of emotion, they give great advice and are someone their friends often rely upon. They value their families and communities highly. Some water signs would go to the end of the earth for anyone they love.

Water Sign Quality: Creative

Cropped Image of Unrecognizable Female Ceramics Maker working with Pottery Wheel in Cozy Workshop Makes a Future Vase or Mug, Creative People Handcraft Pottery Class

Many water signs are quite creative.


The combination of intuition and emotionality typically makes water signs quite creative. They often need an artistic outlet for their strong feelings. However, creativity looks different for everyone. It doesn’t have to be something like painting or drawing. It can also look like creating a new project structure at work or inventing a product to improve people’s lives.

Water Sign Quality: Stable

Happy couple holding Shar Pei puppy

Most water signs prefer a long-term relationship to a casual one.

©djiledesign/iStock via Getty Images

Water signs are also steady and persistent. Thousands of years of water flowing can carve an impressive canyon. This particular quality gives water signs staying power. However, they can also hold onto relationships and objects even in bad situations. Letting things go is something most water signs have to work on.

Water Sign Quality: Intuitive

Neon smoke. Colorful abstract background. Paint in water splash. Spiritual aura. Glowing bright magenta pink purple steam blend on dark.

Water signs can be more comfortable than most in spiritual realms.


These signs are extremely intuitive. Following the waters of our emotions leads us to understand other people’s motivations. Many water sign people can even seem to be psychic if they have honed their intuition. Going with the gut comes easily to a water sign. However, if a water sign becomes unbalanced and too much judgment clouds their intuition, they can become suspicious. In that case, they have a hard time distinguishing between their normally trusty intuition and something from outside of themself.

Water Sign Quality: Boundaries

A young woman brought her sick dog to the vet for a check-up.

Caring for others comes naturally to many water sign people.


Water signs are extremely caring people, but they may also struggle with boundaries. Again, if you think about the quality of water, it flows into whatever space is available. Water signs love to be of service. With that quality plus their intuition and difficulty in letting things go, they can be overly focused on others. This can be a beautiful thing when they find balance and also focus on themselves. However, without some self-care, a water sign can become resentful and passive-aggressive when they extend too much of their energy outside of themselves.

Water Signs of the Zodiac

Cancer: The Cardinal Water Sign

Close-up of rare red crab of the Christmas Island, Australia

The crab is the symbol of the water sign Cancer.

©Zinni-Online/iStock via Getty Images

Ruling Planet: The Moon

Most Compatible Signs: Taurus, Capricorn, Scorpio

As the cardinal water sign, Cancer is somewhat of a leader. However, it is a bit different than other cardinal signs. The way that Cancer leads is with steady persistence and emotional exploration. They may lead others to discover their own emotional states. They can also harness their emotional discomfort to easily create change in their lives.

Cancers wear their home on their back. They are great at creating a comfortable and cozy environment wherever they go. However, they can be a bit of a homebody. Even if they don’t like to go out, they enjoy hosting those they love at home. They would rather have a movie night or dinner party than a night out at the club.

This sign is a natural nurturer. They will take care of you when you’re sick, and make sure you have everything you need on the first day of your new job. Of all the water signs, they value loyalty the most and may have the hardest time letting go of people. They are not the type of person drawn to a casual relationship. They value stability and when they choose friends and partners, they expect it to be for the long haul. If you’re looking for a ride-or-die, Cancer is a good candidate.

Cancer’s ruling planet, the Moon, is the closest body to our planet. It goes through each sign monthly. The Moon governs our emotions, so it is this connection that gives Cancer its stereotypically emotional quality. They may feel depressed one day and feel better the next.

Scorpio: The Fixed Water Sign

Scorpion on nature background in courtyard.

Water sign Scorpio is represented by a



©ApisitWilaijit/iStock via Getty Images

Ruling Planet: Mars (Traditional), Pluto (Modern)

Most Compatible Signs: Cancer, Virgo, Pisces

Scorpio is an intense water sign which combines the fire of Mars with raging waters. This leads to a lot of steam, but it’s a lot more than hot air. In a steam engine, fire and water lead to a lot of power. Scorpios are passionate people, but they are careful about who they reveal themselves to. They are intensely private and only reveal their full selves to those who get close enough. Underneath their wall of mystery is a lot of depth.

Scorpio’s modern ruler, Pluto, is all about discovering what is buried underneath, as well as power dynamics. Part of their mystery is their way of holding onto their own power. They feel that if they don’t show their vulnerability to everyone, they can retain control of most situations. They can be seen as calculating or manipulative, but that is really a misunderstanding. Scorpios are just thinking about three steps ahead of everyone else, and with their incredible intuition, they feel like they already know what is going to happen in three more steps after that. Their planning and organizational qualities are what make them a great match with Virgo.

In relationships, Scorpios desire to fully merge with someone. They are quite sexual, and a sexual connection is required for most Scorpios in relationships. Some Scorpios may use sex as a way to secure a partner. However, for the most part, Scorpios see sex as a way to see the real truth of a person. They like enjoying time with someone in their most vulnerable state. Scorpios may be particularly interested in bedroom power games.

Scorpio is a driven sign. They are often high achievers and seem to have a lot of energy for their projects. However, if they don’t take the time for self-care, they can burn out and crash hard.

Pisces: The Mutable Water Sign

Rosetail fighter fish

The symbol for Pisces, a water sign, is two fish.


Ruling Planet: Jupiter (Traditional), Neptune (Modern)

Most Compatible Signs: Scorpio, Virgo, Taurus

As the last sign of the zodiac, some astrologers say that Pisces has some of the qualities of each of the other signs. However, that’s not exactly true. What is truer is that Pisces is so boundaryless that they can easily pick up traits from the people around them if they are not careful about being true to themselves.

Watery Pisces can live in a dream world. They are very internally oriented and spiritual. They are susceptible to illusions. Pisces can easily fall victim to harmful group ideologies if they don’t have a significant sense of themselves. They can also use daydreams to avoid their problems until it is too late, and the problem grows out of control.

While Pisces have no problem committing in the right situation, they are probably the least committed water sign. Because they kind of live in two worlds, they have an easier time leaving situations that no longer serve them. They can also be social chameleons, fitting themselves in with whatever group they are currently around.

Some people think Pisces are flaky, however, they are just floating around in their stream, like the fish that represent them. When they change plans at the last minute, it’s probably because something extraordinary came across their path. Maybe they will make it next time!

Their intuition plus the way they are in touch with their inner world makes them amazing creatives. They can pull something out of their imagination and bring it to fruition.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jason Benz Bennee/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Dayva is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering astrology, animals, and geography. She has over 12 years of experience as a writer, and graduated from Hofstra University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Music and a Minor in French. She has also completed course work in Core Strengths Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Technical Communication. Dayva lives in the SF Bay Area with her cute but very shy cat, Tula.

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