Reef Keeping Glossary

Stolireef

Active member
When I first started in this hobby, I found the acronyms and vocabulary daunting. I'm no shrinking violet so I constantly asked questions (eg. What's an 'SPS'). I thought it might be helpful to create a basic reef keeping glossary here. Feel free to add to and/or correct this list. Maybe it'll become a sticky.

Bean Animal: A type of drain that assists with keeping the drain as quiet as possible.
Calcium Reactor: Equipment in which aragonite (calcium carbonate) is slowly dissolved in acidic tank water and then returned to the tank. Used for maintaining Calcium, carbonate hardness, and other trace elements necessary for coral growth.
Controller: Typically, a computer that monitors a variety of things in the tank such as temperature, pH, salinity, water levels, and can control equipment such as lighting and heating based upon a variety of factors. Common brands include Neptune Apex, Digital Aquatics Reef Keeper, and Reef Angel.
Cycle: Refers to the nitrogen cycle in which Ammonia is reduced to Nitrite which is then reduced to Nitrate and then ultimately to nitrogen gas. The initial cycle of a tank is complete when neither Ammonia nor Nitrite is detectable and nitrate is measurable.
Doser: Dosers are peristaltic pumps that can add very precise amounts of fluids to the tank. Can be used for two part dosing, trace elements, foods, and other liquids that you wish to add to your tank regularly.
Durso: A type of drain that assists with keeping the drain as quiet as possible.
Frag: A small piece of coral that has been broken off or cut from a larger colony.
HOB: Stands for 'hang on back' and may be used in conjuntion with protein skimmers, other mechancal filters, refugiums or anything that hangs on the back of the tank rather than in the stand or in the sump.
Kalkwasser: Calcium Hydroxide (also known as Balling). A powder that is typically mixed with top off water. Used for maintaining Calcium, carbonate hardness, and other trace elements necessary for coral growth.
LPS: Large polyp stony coral. This is not a scientific term but rather one used by hobbyists to describe a calcerous (hard) coral that has large polyps that, at times, live colonially and symbiotically. Some LPS have a single large polyp. Without going into scientific names, these corals include a broad variety of corals including, but not limited to, torches, brains, frogspawn, hammers, acans, chalices, etc.
Media Reactors: Equipment that allows steady contact between tank water and a variety of media include carbon, phosphate removers, biopellets, etc.
Overflow: A place in the display tank in which water can overflow from the top edge of the water column into a drain that feeds the sump. An overflow will assist with pulling the most nutrient rich water that clings to the top of the display due to water surface tension.
Pods: Small crustaceans ranging from the microscopic to about 1/4 inch. Excellent food sources for many fish and as tank cleaners.
Powerhead: A compact pump that is placed inside the tank, sump or fuge that is primarily used for creating flow. Designs are typically magnetic. Propeller powerheads (eg. Tunze Stream, Ecotech MP40) are used to move a large volume of water gently. Other powerheads can also be used for feeding reactors or other 'wet applications' where water movement is necessary.
Protein Skimmer: A filtration device that introduces a high volume of very small air bubbles into a column of water. Organic materials in the water cling to the bubbles and form a foam that overflows into a collection cup thus reducing nutrients in the tank. Most reef keepers consider a good protein skimmer as a necessity for a successful reef tank.
Quarantine Tank Also called a 'QT'. A smaller tank set up to quarantine new fish prior to adding them to the main display. Excellent for medicating sick fish and/or for ensuring that new livestock is free from disease prior to adding to the display where other livestock can become infected.
Refugium: Also known as a 'fuge', it is a place to house beneficial macro algae, pods, certain fish, etc. that would be vulnerable to predation in the display tank.
Return Pump: This is the pump that pulls water from your sump and returns it to the display tank.
Soft Corals: Also known as softies, include any coral that does not have a calcerous skelleton. Includes leathers, polyps, etc.
SPS: Small polyp stony coral. This is not a scientific term but rather one used by hobbyists to describe a calcerous (hard) coral that has very small polyps living colonially and symbiotically. The coral can be plating, branching, tabling or a combination of all three. SPS's typically include Acroporas, Montiporas, Stylophoras, and Pocilloporas.
Sump: A container that holds water that is fed from the drain in the display tank. Typically used to house filtration equipment such as skimmers, reactors, media holders etc. Typically considered essential equipment on larger reef tanks.
Two Part Dosing: A combination of pH buffer and calcium that is dosed on a regular basis into the tank. Allows for precision control over calcium, carbonate hardness, and other trace elements.
 

Stolireef

Active member
That's a great link but I'm going for something a little more in-depth. Not anything comprehensive but something that a newbie can use when they are trying to understand some of the threads.
 

Fishyoga

New member
I like the way you started it though. The link gives the meaning of the acronym, but you provide a definition which in the end can be more helpful.
 

Stolireef

Active member
I like the way you started it though. The link gives the meaning of the acronym, but you provide a definition which in the end can be more helpful.

Thanks. I hope others add to this list. The goal here was to create a newbie accessible glossary without a bunch of technical jargon.
 

Stolireef

Active member
Here's another one:

Carbonate Hardness: Usually referred to as kH, it is a measure of the amount of acid that can be absorbed by the tank without impacting on pH. Should be kept between approximate 8 and 10 dkH. Within that range, stability is more important than the actual number unless running a very low nutrient tank.

Ultra Low Nutrient System: Often referred to as ULNS, this is a method of reefkeeping in which nutrients (in particular, Nitrates and Phosphates) are kept at or near undetectable levels. Frequently achieved through carbon dosing.

Carbon Dosing: Often done through the addition of small amounts of Vodka, carbon dosing maximizes the bacterial population in the tank thus dramatically reducing nutrients to create an ultra low nutrients system.
 

frogdog

Relentless Question-Asker
Here are a couple that I find useful.

Coast-to-Coast Overflow aka Calfo Overflow: An overflow that encompasses one full side of the aquarium.

Herbie Overflow: An overflow design with 2 standpipes going from overflow box down to sump. 1 operates at full siphon and the 2nd one is an emergency standpipe.

Beanimal Overflow: An overflow design with 3 standpipes going from overflow box down to sump. 1 operates at full siphon and the 2nd one is open channel and the 3rd is an emergency standpipe.
 
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