The Planted Tank Forum - View Single Post - Glossary of Terms, FAQ's, useful links and search tips
View Single Post
post #1 of (permalink) Old 02-21-2006, 06:59 AM Thread Starter
Planted Member
PTrader: (2/100%)
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Fairfax, VA
Posts: 159
Lightbulb Glossary of Terms, FAQ's, useful links and search tips

If you are a newbie like me, you probably want to dive head first into this great hobby but have no idea where to start. Hopefully this thread will help you understand the lingo and point you in the right direction.

I've searched around and asked but didn't see any replies to a request for a glossary. So I've decided to start one here with terms I've learned so far, please feel free to add on. If this already exists somewhere, please let me know and I'll delete this one. Much of the terms are well known to me, but many are also new to me, so please let me know if I'm made any errors.


AC - Activated carbon, chemical filtration media or alternating current submitted by Albinooscar

AGA - All-Glass Aquarium, Aquarium manufacturer submitted by Albinooscar

Algae Eater - a fish that is prized by aquascapers for its algae eating property submitted by medicineman

Amano - an accomplished aquascaper whose name has come to define a style of scaping submitted by lumpyfunk

Aquarium - A container used to house fish, plants, invertebrate and other aquatic life. Usually made of glass or acrylic but can also be made of other material such as wood. submitted by Albinooscar

Aquascaping - the process of arranging and pruning your plants for aesthetics

Ballast - A device used to start a gas discharge lamp, and once the lamp is started, to limit the flow of electric current submitted by TAF CAF

BBA - Black Brush Algae, not always black but grows in tufts submitted by Rex Grigg

BGA - Blue Green Algae submitted by Gerald the Mouse

Biogenic - Decalcification - When CO2 is deficient the plants can suck it right out of the hardening constituents of the carbonate hardness, thus raising pH. submitted by Adrian

BOD - Biological oxygen demand submitted by Albinooscar

BPM - short for bubbles per minute, the count of bubbles in a bubble counter for a CO2 system, a unit of measure for CO2

BTW - Short for "by the way"

Bubble Counter - A small cylinder half full of water with a co2 input tube and an output tube. Bubbles form and co2 gas enters the input chamber and then to the output chamber. Bubbles form in the water to help the user gauge the co2 flow rate.

Buffers - products used to raise or lower alkalinity and acidity submitted by Đank

Bump - A generic forum term in which a post is made, generally just with the word "bump" as the context, to push a thread to the top of the forum list. Many times this is used if a post goes unanswered or if a seller wants his thread to get more exposure. Before "bumping" a thread check the forum rules as some forums frown upon "bumping." Also used in this fashion is "TTT" meaning To the Top.

CAE - short for Chinese Algae Eater, an infamous algae eating fish submitted by medicineman

Canister Filter - These filters differ from the "hang on the back of your tank" filters in that they are external to the tank. They have an input and output hose. Water leaves the tank, enters the canister for filtration, then re-enters the tank. These types of filters are generally more efficient than "hang on" filters and are desirable for aesthetics as the filter can be hidden.

Canopy - Sits on top of tank usually contains lighting submitted by Đank

CEC - Cation Exchange Capacity

CFL - Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Check Valve - Inline device that allows gas or water, depending on the type of valve, to flow in one direction

Chelators - Synthetic acids that enable trace elements to be absorbed by plants before they precipitate. submitted by Adrian

Cherries - Short for cherry shrimp, a red freshwater shrimp

CO2 - Carbon Dioxide, generally used in planted tanks with heavy lighting (greater than 2WPG) to accelerate plant growth. Injection usually done via DIY CO2, pressurized CO2 or CO2 tablets. CO2 injection is usually done with care however as it lowers your waters pH.

CO2 regulator and solenoid - A guage and controller that attaches to a pressurized CO2 bottle with a plug to activate and deactive CO2 injection. Plug usually plugs into a timer or pH controller. Regulator drops the cylinder pressure to a working pressure.. Some have bubble counters built in. changes made based on Rex Grigg's comments

CPD - Celestial Pearl Danios submitted by chikit2370

CPO - Mexican Dwarf Crayfish

CRS - Crystal Red Shrimp submitted by TAF CAF

CSM+B - The supplement Plantex CSM with Boron added see link for more info

CTA - Cellulose triacetate, type of RO membrane generally for water filtration submitted by Albinooscar

Cutting - Detached parts of stem plants for replanting. submitted by Adrian

Cyano - Cyanobacteria, a nuisance algae submitted by Albinooscar

DC - Direct current, a type of power submitted by Albinooscar

Demineralization - extraction of dissolved salts in the water byway of ion exchange or RO. submitted by Adrian

DI - Deionisation, type of water purification, a common part of some water filters submitted by Albinooscar

Diffuser - Inserts gas into water as very tiny bubbles and spreads the gas out. Generally used in smaller tanks to inject CO2

DIY - short for Do it yourself submitted by Albinooscar

DIY CO2 - Do it yourself CO2, generally a system designed to produce CO2 through chemical reactions, usually for smaller tanks

Dormant Periods - Some plants observe it to adjust to native (dry)seasonal fluctuations. submitted by Adrian

Eco-Complete - A common premium substrate for planted tanks

EI - (Estimative Index) Fertilizer Dosing Method submitted by Ktulu_JL

Emersed Plant - When the plant is grown out of the water. That includes in regular soil or fluorite or whatever substrate, or it can mean that the plants are allowed to grow out of the water (ie: when the plants get too high in an aquarium) Emersed plants flower and bud. Some submersed plants can be grown emersed, but not all of them. submitted by epicfish

Evap - Short for evaporation

Ferts - Plant fertilizers

Flourish - A family a products that will add ferts to the tank (Excel, Fe, K, N) submitted by Đank

Flourite - A common premium substrate for planted tanks

FO - short for Fish only submitted by Albinooscar

FW - short for Freshwater submitted by Albinooscar

GBR - German Blue Ram submitted by Gerald the Mouse

gH - General hardness, measure of the concentration of magnesium and calcium ions

GPH - Gallons per hour

Greg Watson Ferts - is a common retailer of fertilizers for planted tanks. This site is popular because they sell dry fertilizers in quantity which equals significant cost savings per dosing unit.

Hard Scape - Rocks or driftwood in your tank

HC - short for Hemianthus callitrichoides, an aquarium plant that blankets what it's planted on

Heater - A device that sits in your tank or sump which raises and maintains water temperature.

High-Tech Tank - Used to describe a tank with strong growth aids, generally more than 2 WPG, CO2 injection, fertilizer dosing, etc.

HO - High output Fluorescent lighting submitted by Albinooscar

HOB - short for "hang on back" referring to devices, such as filters, which hang on the back of the aquarium submitted by Aquamoon

HQI - Mercury (Hg) Quartz Iodide, a type of metal halide lamp submitted by Albinooscar

HTH - Hope That Helps submitted by JenThePlantGeek

H2O2 - Hydrogen Peroxide (3% bottle found commonly at the store)

IMO - In My Opinion submitted by JenThePlantGeek

Internode - portion of the stem axis between two nodes. submitted by Adrian

K2SO4 - Potassium sulfate, a common fertilizer

kH - Carbonate hardness, measures buffering capacity

KNO3 - Potassium nitrate, a common fertilizer

Latterite - A common tank substrate

LFS - Local Fish Store

Low-Tech Tank - Used to describe a tank with little growth aid, generally less than 2 WPG and no CO2 injection

LPH - Liters per hour submitted by Albinooscar

Lumens - A unit of measure for light output submitted by Fish Newb The lumen can be thought of casually as a measure of the total "amount" of visible light emitted. submitted by Rex Grigg

Micros - trace element fertilizers like Plantex CSM or Flourish

MH - Metal Halide lights, a very powerful light generally used in Reef tanks.

MJ - Maxijet, powerhead manufacturer submitted by Albinooscar

MTS - Malaysian trumpet snails submitted by Aquamoon or short for Multiple Tank Syndrome, referring to the addictive nature of this hobby and the desire to purchase more than one tank submitted by TAF CAF, also Mineralized Top Soil

Needle valve - a device used to regulate and control the flow of CO2 into a planted tank submitted by Rex Grigg

Niche - The role an organism plays in its environment (aquarium in this case). eg: algae eater, bottom dweller, etc. submitted by frogmanjared

NO - Normal output Fluorescent lighting submitted by Albinooscar

Node - Slightly thickened part of the stem axis on which leaves grow submitted by Adrian

NSW - short for Natural seawater submitted by Albinooscar

ODNO - Over Driven Normal Output, a normal fluoroscent bulb that is modified to run extra output by suppying higher electrical input submitted by medicineman

Onyx - A common premium sand for planted tanks

Overflow - A device or mechanism built into or hanging on the back of your tank that allows water to flow out of your tank and into a sump or refugium.

Pearling - The process of plants giving off oxygen. This is seen in the form of small bubbles coming off your plants.

Peat Moss - A common tank substrate found at most hardware stores, ie Lowes, Home Depot, etc. and Commonly used as a thin layer under substrait to provide nutrients for plants, or used in filter bags to help reduce hardness and pH. submitted by TAF CAF

PC - Power Compact lighting, also commonly referred as Compact Flourescent

pH - Defines how acidic or alkaline the water is, an extremely important water parameter to maintain

PH - short for Powerhead submitted by Albinooscar

pH Monitor - A realtime monitor of the pH level in your tank

pH Controller - A realtime monitor of the pH level in your tank with a plug that activates when pH reaches a certain level. Usually a CO2 regulator is plugged into this device to automate CO2 injection.

Phosphate - a common tank fertilizer supplement

Plantex CSM - A name brand fertilizer of micros.

PMDD - PMDD is short for "Poor Man's Daily (or Dosing) Drops", a reference to an inexpensive homemade nutrient program

Powerhead - A water pump designed for water circulation or movement. Also used to pump water between tanks or devices.

PPM - Parts per million, a common unit of measure

Pressurized CO2 - A system which involved a CO2 tank and regulator, generally used to inject CO2 into your tank for plants

PT - short for The Planted Tank, this site submitted by Aquamoon

PVC - short for Poly vinyl chloride, used for piping / plumbing submitted by Albinooscar

RAOK - Random Act of Kindness = giving away something for the cost of shipping or entirely free

Reactor - A device which combines your tank water and CO2 in a chamber before outputting back to your tank. These devices usually need a powerhead or canister filter to input water as they need a high flow to work properly.

RC - short for, a popular saltwater reef site

RCS - Red Cherry Shrimp submitted by TAF CAF

Refugium - A tank that sits external to your main tank but shares the same water via an overflow or attached to a sump. Refugiums are generally used to isolate certain plants or grow items that need to be isolated such as macro algae.

RO - Reverse Osmosis, a common type of water filtration which some use for water changes. Water is pushed through a thick membrane which cleans it of 99+% of all particles, chemicals and bacteria good or bad submitted by Albinooscar

RO/DI - Reverse Osmosis/Deionisation generally for water filtration submitted by Albinooscar

Runner - Lateral offshoot of a plant which creeps horizontally to produce daughter plants. submitted by Adrian

Rhyzome - fleshy part at the base of plants such as java fern, anubias, and bolbitus which the roots grow out of. Should not be burried in substrate submitted by JenThePlantGeek

SA - South American Submitted by Marilyn1998

SAE - short for Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus siamensis, an algae eating fish submitted by medicineman

Soilmaster - A substrate made my Lesco originally for sports/field applications submitted by Đank

Submersed Plant - Plants that are grown under water only. Some submersed plants can be grown emersed, but not all of them submitted by epicfish

Substrate - The media or substance you layer the bottom of your tank with

Sump - Generally a smaller tank that sits below your main tank. An overflow allows water to flow into the smaller tank where you can store all your water handling equipment, ie heater, filter, etc. and a pump returns water to your main tank.

Stems - Plants portions that have been pruned but are suitable for replanting

SW - short for Saltwater / Seawater submitted by Albinooscar

T5 Lights - A newer form of lighting that produces high output with lower energy consumption than most other technologies. This lighting is now competing with Metal Halide lighting.

TIA - Short for "thanks in advance"

TFC - Thin film composite, type of RO membrane, generally for water filtration submitted by Albinooscar

TPT - short for The Planted Tank, this site submitted by Aquamoon

Trace Elements - Derived from: copper sulfate, cobalt sulfate, manganese sulfate, boric acid, sodium molybdate and others submitted by Đank

TTT - See Bump

Tuber - Storage organ for some plants (Aponogeton) that supplies nutrients during their dormant periods. submitted by Adrian

UGF - Under Gravel Filter, a water filtration system that goes under your substrate submitted by Albinooscar

UV - short for Ultra violet light submitted by Albinooscar

UV Filter - A filter that has water pass through a chamber where it shoots UV light at the water to kill certain types of bacteria. submitted by Adrian

VHO - Very high output Fluorescent lighting submitted by Albinooscar

WC - short for Water Change submitted by medicineman

WPG - Watts Per Gallon, refers to the amount of light divided by gallons in your tank

XP3 - A large cannister filter made by Rena in France that is well made and not too expensive submitted by Betowess

YMMV - Short for "your mileage may vary" meaning that performing said actions won't always end in the same result

Useful Links:

Newbie FAQ that I found extremely helpful:
Rex's Guide to Planted Tanks

and another:

Calculate how much CO2 is in your tank based on kH and pH:

Good information on fertilizer dosing:

DIY plans:

Setting up a CO2 system:

Aquascaping threads:

All you ever wanted to know about pH, kH and gH including how to lower, raise and maintain:
Aquarium Chemistry, pH, gH, and kH relationship

How to search this site using

If you're like me, you're not crazy about vbulletins search engine. It basically works like this: It takes the first word and finds all matches, then takes that list and matches the second word, etc etc. It's not quite as smart as Google's search engine. If you are looking for something that the search engine doesn't help you with try google instead. In google plug the following in:
followed by a space and then your search terms. Keep in mind the data won't be as fresh as the local site search engine. Google sweeps the site every few days so if what you are looking for is 3 days old or newer you're better off using the sites engine.

Keep the following syntax in mind:
- must not include parameter
+ must include the parameter
~ synonym's acceptable
quotes - parameter must look for entire phrase
i.e.: I want to search this site and it must contain the word plant, must not contain the phrase dry ferts and preferably contains water or any synoym of water I would search for: +plant -"dry ferts" ~water

hope this helps.

Last edited by sewingalot; 07-21-2012 at 08:22 PM. Reason: adding abbreviations from the list
edrock200 is offline  
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome