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Reef Forum participants often use common terms and abbreviations when talking to fellow Reefers. Below is a list of many of them, and their general definitions. Please feel free to e-mail us with suggested additions to this list.

Acro: Short for Acropora sp. Any SPS coral belonging to the family.

Actinic: A type of fluorescent light, vivid in blue coloration. This color of light is the most useful to the chlorophyll in marine life, and is the color of the sea below 10 meters (approximately 33 feet).

Activated Carbon: This is carbon that supersedes the term charcoal, which is made from animal bones. It can absorb many compounds out of the water, and is especially good at removing yellowing compounds, to keep the water clear.

Aiptasia: A small Anemone that comes in as a stowaway on Live Rock, spreads quickly, and can be a nuisance by harming other corals and inverts with its sting.

Aragonite: Fossilized coral skeletons that have been ground up, creating gravel. This substrate is used in calcium reactors.

Ballast: An electrical supply for lights such as fluorescents and metal halide bulbs. These are available in several varieties, with the most common type being an electronic ballast.

Berlin System: A method of biological filtration that uses only live rock and a large protein skimmer.

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BTA: Bubble Tip Anemone. Short for Entacmaea quadricolor, a hardy, easy to care for anemone.

Carbon: See Activated Carbon

Detritus: Organic matter produced by the decomposition of organisms and waste products. In aquatic ecosystems, when detritus is suspended in water, it is often referred to as marine snow. Appears as a dusty, dirty brown residue that settles on the gravel and live rock. It lowers pH, raises organics, and generally causes an imbalance in tank chemistry.

Dosing Pump: A pump that supplies a very slow drip, which is used to add trace elements, 2-part additives, or make-up water to compensate for evaporation. The most common type is a peristaltic pump.

DSB: Deep Sand Bed. Generally, an aquarium setup with at least 4 inches of gravel, possibly with a plenum, under gravel filter, or void space underneath the gravel, used for nitrate reduction.

FOWLR: Pronounced 'Fowe-ler'. Stands for Fish-Only-With-Live-Rock. A fish only aquarium that is set up without corals and uses Live Rock for partial biological filtration.

GSP: Green Star Polyps.

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HOB: Hang-on-the-back filter.

HQI: Also called DE (double-ended). A type of Metal Halide bulb that provides greater efficiency and brightness, with the same amount of electricity.

Kalkwasser: German for "lime water", a saturated solution of Calcium Hydroxide in distilled or RO/DI (Reverse Osmosis/Deionized) water. Some would say Kalwasserdrips work better than calcium reactors to maintain proper calcium, alkalinity, and pH levels.

LFS: Your Local Fish Store.

LPS: Short for large polyp scleractinian (see "SPS" below).

LUX: Unit of measure of illumination.

Nano Reef: Generally, a reef tank with a capacity of less than 30 gallons.

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Nudi: Short for Nudibranch (noo-dah-br`ank); often mispronounced. Usually refers to a Sea Slug, or a shell-less, slug-like mollusk, often with a beautifully colored body.

Needle Wheel: Needle Wheel protein skimmers are generally Venturi skimmers with a "needle wheel" impeller. A Venturi valve is used to inject the air, which is then drawn through the needle wheel impeller, chopping the incoming bubbles into a fine mist.

ORP: Oxidation/Reduction Potential. Sometimes called Redox. It is a measure of the filtering capacity of a tank.

PAR: Photosynthetically active radiation; measurement of the amount of photosynthetically active wavelengths in light.

PC: Power compact, more commonly known as "compact fluorescent". A type of fluorescent bulb, bent to form a double bulb strip.

Pico Reef: Generally, a reef tank with a capacity of less than 5 gallons.

QT Tank: Quarantine tank. A place to keep fish and inverts for observation and treatment, to avoid contamination of the display tank.

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RTN: Rapid Tissue Necrosis. A disease of corals, where a coral starts to progressively bleach (turn white from dying tissue), which results in the coral tissue detaching from the coral skeleton.

Shroom: Short for mushroom, or mushroom coral.

Soft Coral: Common name for species of the Anthozoan order Alcyonacea of the subclass Octocorallia. In contrast to hard or stony corals, most soft corals do not possess a massive external skeleton.

Softies: See "Soft Coral" above.

SPS: Small polyp scleractinian - a hard coral or "Small Polyp Stony" coral, whose soft polyps, as it grows, secrete a hard calcium carbonate skeleton, which builds up over time to create reefs. ("SPS" is often used mistakenly, as an abbreviation for Small Polyp Stony coral.)

Square Pin: A type of connector on some PC Fluorescent bulbs, where the 4 pins are arranged as 2 rows of two pins.

STN: Slow Tissue Necrosis. A disease of corals (see "RTN" above). The difference between RTN and STN is the rate at which the disease progresses.

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Straight Pin: A type of connector on some PC Fluorescent bulbs, where the 4 pins are arranged in a single row.

T5: A narrow gauge tubular fluorescent bulb. Due to their narrow size, several of them can be installed side by side, to increase the light intensity in an aquarium.

Venturi: A type of valve that produces bubbles by drawing air through a narrow channel in quickly flowing water. It is used on protein skimmers to mix air and water.

VHO: Very high output; a form of high intensity lighting.

WC: Water Change

WC / CB: (WC) Wild Caught / (CB) Captive Bread

Zoas or Zoos: Anemones of the family Zoanthidae, usually found in intertidal areas and coral reefs. Popular for reef aquariums, due to their wide range of colors, and hardiness. A great Coral for beginners.

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