Aquarium Terms Glossary

Here is a list of commonly used terms (and their meanings) associated with aquariums.

Acclimation – adaptation to a new climate (a new temperature or altitude or environment)

Activated charcoal – powdered or granular carbon used for purifying by adsorption

Aerate – to expose to fresh air

Air pumps – machines that aerate water and as a result, help expose your aquatic life to fresh air

Algae – a primitive chlorophyll-containing aquatic eukaryotic organism that lacking true stems and roots and leaves

Ammonia – A pungent gas compounded of nitrogen and hydrogen (NH3)

Aquarium – a tank or pool or bowl filled with water for keeping live fish and underwater animals

Aquatic plants – plants that grow partly or wholly in water whether rooted or floating

Bacteria – single-celled or noncellular spherical or spiral or rod-shaped organisms

Balance – an ecological correct aquarium

Carbon dioxide – a heavy odorless colorless absorbed by plants in photosynthesis

Cycling – process of preparing a tank for aquatic life

Driftwood – wood that has been washed ashore; used as tank decoration

Ecological system – the interdependence of living organisms in an environment

Filter – a device that cleans the water inside of an aquarium

Filtration – the process whereby fluids pass through a filter or a filtering medium

Fluorescent lights – a lighting fixture that uses a fluorescent lamp

Freshwater aquarium – an aquarium that contains freshwater fish

Freshwater fish – water-life and elements from places like rivers, lakes, and ponds

Gravel – small rocks placed on the bottom of a tank

Grow Lights – lighting designed to encourage the growth aquarium plants

Habitat – the type of environment in which an organism or group normally lives or occurs

Heater – machine used to comfort fish that come from warmer climates

Incandescent lamp – a type of electric lamp consisting of a transparent or translucent glass

Nitrate – any compound containing the nitrate group (such as a salt)

Overstocking – the act of placing too many fish in one aquarium

pH – the logarithm of the reciprocal of hydrogen-ion concentration in gram atoms per liter

Photosynthesis – the synthesis of compounds with the aid of radiant energy (especially in plants)

Public aquarium – an aquarium put on public display; usually found in zoos or aquatic centers

Quarantine – isolate to prevent the spread of infectious disease

Salinity – the relative proportion of salt in a solution

Saltwater aquarium – an aquarium that contains saltwater fish

Saltwater fish – water-life and elements found in oceans

Soaking – the process of preparing driftwood for tank use

Starter Kit – a package of various aquarium accessories

Stress – a condition that can cause illness in fish

Tannin – phenolic substances released during the soaking process of driftwood

Toxins – poisonous materials

Undergravel filter – a filter that aerates water from the bottom of a tank

Wastes – fish “poop”