Adjusting to any new hobby and the inclusive practices can be confusing because of all the unfamiliar terminology. Here are a few terms and basic descriptions
to aid you in better understanding the wonderful world of aquariums.
Acclimation - Process of slowly adjusting organisms to new water
conditions, usually in transportation cases.
Air Pump - A device that forces air and forces it into the aquarium. Their
primary function is to oxygenate water, although they can be used to power
airstones, undergravel filters, or decorations.
Ammonia - A toxic chemical byproduct produced in the breakdown of proteins.
It is later converted to nitrite, then nitrate through naturally occurring
processes in the nitrogen cycle.
Antibiotics - A type of medication to inhibit bacteria growth.
Aquascape - Refers to the overall layout of the aquarium, including rocks,
plants and other various decorations.
Biological Filtration - Natural process in which bacteria breaks down
potentially harmful ammonia into a less toxic nitrate.
BPM - Stands for "bubbles per minute" and is used in measuring release
amounts of CO2.
Brackish - Water with a slight salt content, usually found where a river
and ocean meet.
Brine Shrimp - Small crustaceans used as a food source for both fresh and
Bubble Nest - A floating nest of air bubbles which support the eggs laid by
the female and is guarded by the male.
Canister Filter - Large capacity external filter that integrates water
through layers of filter media.
Carnivore - An organism that consumes meat.
Chemical Filtration - Process of removing dissolved particles through
Chiller - Mechanical unit used to lower water temperature.
Chloramine - Chemical compound of chlorine and ammonia which can be harmful
Carbon Dioxide System - Series of devices assembled to introduce and
regulate carbon dioxide for aquarium use.
Community Tank - An aquarium that houses a number of different species of
fish, all compatible with each other because of similar water parameter
Cycling - Process of establishing biological filtration by promoting the
growth of nitrifying bacteria.
Doser - A liquid distribution system used to maintain aquarium water
Filter - A device that circulates water and removes impurities from an
Fry - Newly hatched fish.
Herbivore - An organism that consumes plants.
Hydrometer - An instrument that measures the specific gravity and salinity
of marine water aquariums.
Ich - A common parasitic disease appears in the form of white spots.
Internal Filter - A filter contained completely inside the tank, whether it
is partially or completely submerged.
Invertebrates - Organisms that lack a backbone.
Light Meter - An instrument designed to measure light intensity.
Live-Bearer - Any fish that gives birth to live young.
Mechanical Filtration - The process of physically removing solid debris
from the aquarium as water passes through a filter media.
Nitrate - End result of the nitrogen cycle; the least toxic nitrogen
byproduct. In large quantities, it can still be dangerous.
Nitrite - A toxic byproduct of the nitrogen cycle. Often broken down and
used by plants.
Nitrogen Cycle - The natural process by which certain bacteria turn
harmful ammonia, from fish waste and other decaying matter, into nitrite
and then into less harmful nitrate.
Omnivore - An organism that feeds on a combination of plant and animal
pH - Relative measurement of alkalinity or acidity.
Plankton – Small colonizing organisms that serve as food for other larger organisms.
ppm - An abbreviation for parts per million; used in test kits to measure particular elements.
Powerhead - Small water pump used to power undergravel filters, wavemakers, and other aquatic devices.
Protein Skimmer – Filter that removes dissolved organic material and waste from saltwater.
Quarantine Tank – Standby tank set up for new arrival or sick fish to isolate and monitor them to ensure that no undesirable elements are transferred to the main tank.
Refugium – Aquariums used as an extension of saltwater or reef aquariums; they are used to filter and cycle water while stabilizing conditions.
R/O Units – Refers to reverse osmosis units, which are water purification devices that filter water by pressurization.
Siphon – Refers to a hose or tubing, used when conducting a water change.
Shine Coat – Layer of protective music that covers the scales of fish.
Specific Gravity - Measurement of the relative density, or salt content, of your aquarium water in comparison to pure water.
Substrate – Aquarium gravel that settles on the bottom; functional substrate contains minerals that influence water parameters such as pH and alkalinity.
Undergravel Filter – A filter that is placed underneath the substrate; they pull water through the substrate where beneficial bacteria which are essential for the nitrogen cycle colonize.
Water Change – Process of replacing old aquarium water. Generally 10% should be replaced every week.
Water Parameters – Usually refers to aspects of water involving chemistry, such as pH, alkalinity, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels, and water temperature.
Wet/Dry Filters – A filter that is designed to expose bacteria to both wet and dry conditions to achieve maximum biological filtration.