Common Aquarium Terminology

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Ammonia Typically produced from waste products in the aquarium, such as excess fish food that remains uneaten, decaying organic matter and decaying plant material, beneficial bacteria tun ammonia into nitrite then into the less harmful substance nitrate.

Aquascape Designing the aquarium layout from aquarium plants, positing of rocks and accessories in the aquarium basically landscaping the aquarium.

Air Pump A mechanical device that delivers air into the aquarium environment this is used to provide oxygen for fish and plants and to drive basic filtration systems.

Acclimatization New fish species introduced to a new environment need this acclimatization process to adjust to there new aquarium, the fish are usually left in the plastic bag suspended in the new aquarium water for a few hours to adjust.

Biological Filtration A vital step in the filtration process, biological media houses the beneficial bacteria that breaks down the ammonia produced from organic waste in the environment.

Brackish Water This term refers to the water quality some fish species originate from an environment where fresh water meets salt water, so brackish water is a mix of salt and freshwater measured by specific gravity.

Brine Shrimp Tiny organisms or crustations that occur naturally in the environment, fish species feed on these brine shrimp and can be purchased live, freeze dried and in a flake form to feed your aquarium fish. 

Canister Filtration System These are large capacity filtration systems housed in a plastic canister, which contain the three filtration types, mechanical filtration, chemical filtration and biological filtration, a canister filtration unit is the most effective filtration available suitable for medium to large aquariums.

Chemical Filtration Refers to part of the filtration system that uses activated carbon housed in the filtration unit to absorb chemicals and toxins in the environment like ammonia, phosphate and other toxic chemicals.

CO2 Injection System This system is used in planted aquariums to inject Carbon Dioxide into the environment the process encourages rapid plant growth when used with strong aquarium lighting.

Community Fish Tank The community tank refers to an aquarium that is setup to accommodate several species of fish, these fish need to be selected very carefully to live in harmony with each other, they also need to come from an environment that are similar to each other.

Hydrometer A device that measures the specific gravity and salinity of aquarium water usually used to test marine aquariums or aquariums that house brackish water species.

Internal Filtration System This filtration system is the most basic system available it is a self contained filter that is placed inside the aquarium some provide two stage filtration while the higher spec models provide three stage filtration, usually used in smaller aquariums.

Mechanical Filtration Refers to the first stage of three filtration stages, mechanical filtration is usually a multi layer open cell foam that traps sediment and large particals before entering the chemical and biological stages of filtration.

The Nitrogen Cycle A necessary process to cultivate beneficial bacteria in the environment that turns toxic ammonia into nitrite then into nitrate, this cycle takes around one month to complete during which time the PH, nitrogen and phosphate levels need to be monitored before the aquarium is fully stocked with fish.

Protein Skimmer A protein skimmer is a filtration device used in marine aquariums that skims off organic matter that floats in the water and on the surface to be disposed of helps to keep marine water crystal clear and free from pollution.

Quarantine Tank A small aquarium usually 5 or 10 gallon used to isolate diseased fish until they are cured or to place new fish in to check they have no diseases before they enter the main aquarium.

Substrate Refers to the gravel or soil that is placed on the floor of the aquarium, the substrate serves two purposes, bottom feeders can find there food by foraging around the gravel substrate and plants can flourish in soil substrates, these types of substrates can influence both the PH and the acidity of the aquarium water.

Water Change The process of changing out aquarium water with clean dechlorinated water, this process keeps the aquarium ammonia levels at a manageable level and removes toxins in the water, around one quarter of the volume should be replaced every month to keep the environment clean.