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Thread: Saltwater terms, abbreviations etc for newcomers

  1. #1
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    carriej's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Miramichi, New Brunswick

    Saltwater terms, abbreviations etc for newcomers

    It seems as though there are quite a few "newbies" (this is not a bad thing!) popping around the forum and sometimes we seem like we are speaking a different language.

    I'm just going to throw up some words, acronyms and abbreviations for some things in the salty world. Anyone feel free to write underneath things I may have missed and I will add it to the list. I am sure I have missed lots of things!

    Thought I did this before.. But I can't find it...Click here to enlarge

    Ps. I will put these in alphabetical order someday... :)


    AEFW - Acro eating flat worms
    Alk/ALK - AlkinityATO - Automatic top offBTA - Bubble tip anemoneCalc - CalciumCUC - Clean up crewDSB - Deep sand bedFOWLR - Fish only with live rock
    GAC - Granular Activated Carbon
    GFO - Granular ferric oxide (phosphate removal media)
    GHA - Green Hair algae
    HITH - Hole in the head disease
    HLLE - Head and lateral line erosion
    Kalk - Kalkwasser
    LPS - Large Polyp Stony coral (like frogspawn, duncans, candycanes, acans etc)LR - Live rockMag/Mg - MagnesiumNPS - Non-photosynthetic corals (like sun corals, dendros, etc)
    NSW - Natural Sea Water
    Pods - Copepods
    QT - Quarantine tank
    RO/DI - Reverse osmosis/Deionization unit
    RTN - Rapid tissue necrosis
    SG - Specific Gravity (salinity)
    Softies - Soft corals without a skeleton, like mushrooms, xenia, etc)
    SPS - Small Polyp Stony Coral (like acropora, montipora, etc)
    STN - Slow tissue necrosis
    SW - Saltwater


    Acclimate - Acclimating simply means to acclimate the coral and/or fish to your tank water and parameters. A popular method is the drip method, where water is slowly dripped to gradually acclimatize the new inhabitant to it's new tank.
    Allelopathy - Chemicals produced by corals that affect corals in the system or closeby corals
    Bleaching - When (due to various reasons) a coral expels it's zooxanthellae and loses color
    Cyanobacteria - Photosynthetic film that resembles algae, but is actually a bacteria. Comes in many colors, red, green, brown, etc
    Dosing - Act of adding chemicals such as calcium and alk supplements, mag, traces, etc
    Fragging - Cutting or breaking a piece off a coral colony to make new ones (frags).
    Invertebrate/Inverts - Animal lacking a backbone, in this case shrimp, snails, even corals, etc.
    Kalk/Kalkwasser - Limewater (calcium hydroxide) used to supply calcium needs
    Kelvin - Color temperature or hue measurement of a light source (ie, 10k, 15k, etc)
    Palytoxin - One of the deadliest natural toxins, found in some palythoa and zoanthid species. Don't lick the zoas folks.
    Phyto/Phytoplankton - plant based plankton, food source
    Zooplankton - animal based plankton, feeds on phytoplankton, food source as well
    Zooxanthellae - The photosynthetic algae that is in coral tissues, anemones and other inverts that help the organism gather energy from the sun (or lights).


    Algae Scrubber
    - A filtration component that uses algae as a way to export nutrients in the system. This is generally set up in a sump, etc. Essentially, your growing algae and removing it (and the nutrients along with it) on a regular basis.
    Calcium Reactor - Uses carbon dioxide and calcium carbonate to supply your system with balanced levels of calcium and alk.
    Chiller - Relatively self explanatory. An expensive piece of equipment to keep your tank cool.
    Protein Skimmer - A piece of equipment that is essentially your filter unit. A protein skimmer produces tiny bubbles, which trap dissolved organics in your water. This eventually leads to a foam; which collects in your protein skimmers collection cup. Then you can remove it from the system.
    Refugium - A seperate tank or system hooked in to your display, generally used to grow pods, macro algae or export nutrients via DSB, macro, etc. If you're like me you just grow pods in it :)
    Sump - Essentially a system or tank hooked up to your DT. Most sumps are divided, and each section serves a different purpose. Think of it sort of like a big open filter, one section may contain your heating equipment, the next your protein skimmer, the next the refugium, etc. It also increases the total water volume of your system... And acts as a fish jail :)
    Last edited by carriej; 07-02-2013 at 12:16 AM.

  2. #2
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    Redherring's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    Wolfville, Nova Scotia
    A great resource! Thanks Carriej!

  3. #3
    ECAS member

    fish lady's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    McLeod NB
    thanks Carrie Click here to enlarge

  4. #4
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    Celidh's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    This will help me and others I'm sure.

    Thank-you Click here to enlarge

  5. #5
    ECAS Member

    Convict's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    Thanks Carrie :)

  6. #6
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    carriej's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Miramichi, New Brunswick
    Ok, added a little bit and alphabetized it... If anything has anything to add, feel free to post!



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