Helpful Aquarium & Pond Keeping Acronyms, Abbreviations

While not a complete list, these are acronyms I have found useful and many of my professional aquarium keeping friends have “thrown around”

  • A:

    AAP- An online aquarium & pond supply company, well known for their vast experience and research based information library.
    AMP – Ampere; is the SI unit of electric current. Reference: Ampere; Wikipedia
    AA – Amino Acid
    AC – Activated Carbon, a chemical filtration media.
    AC – Alternating Current
    Acan – Acanthastrea, a genus of large stony coral.
    Acro – Acropora, a genus of small stony coral. Reference: Acropora Coral Information and Care; Lighting, Amino Acids, more
    AEFW – Acropora (Acro) Eating Flat Worms
    ALK – Alkalinity, the measure of the alkaline buffering capacity of water. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    ATC – Automatic Temperature Control

  • B:

    BA – Bubble Algae
    BB – Beneficial Bacteria
    BBA – Black Beard Algae. Reference: Aquarium Algae Control
    BBS – Baby Brine Shrimp
    BGA – Blue-Green Algae. Reference: Blue Grean Algae; Cyanobacteria
    BN – Bristle Nose Pleco, Ancistrus sp, a genus of plecos.
    BOD – Biological Oxygen Demand
    BPS – Bubbles Per Second, used as a measure of the CO2 rate entering an aquarium by advanced planted aquarium keepers.
    BTA – Bubble Tip Anemone
    BTU – British Thermal Unit

  • C:

    Ca – Calcium, an alkaline earth metal. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    Ca(OH)2 – Calcium Hydroxide, used to make Kalkwasser. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    CaCl2 – Calcium Chloride
    CaCO3 – Calcium Carbonate. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    CAE – Chinese Algae Eater
    CBB – Copper Banded Butterfly
    CBS – Coral Banded Shrimp
    CC – Cubic Centimeter
    CC – Crushed Coral, sized #2 through #5. Reference: Aquarium Substrate
    CFL – Compact Fluorescent Lamp
    CFM – Cubic Feet per Minute
    Cl – Chlorine
    CL – Closed Loop
    CMS – Cubic Meters per Second
    CO2 – Carbon Dioxide, a colorless gas of one carbon and two oxygen atoms.
    CO3 – Carbonate
    CRS – Crystal Red Shrimp, Caridina cantonensis
    Cu – Copper, a reddish metallic element.
    CUC – Clean Up Crew, critters that remove algae and detritus.
    CWC – Continuous Water Change. Reference: Aquarium Cleaning
    Cyano – Cyanobacteria, commonly referred to as slime algae. Reference: Blue Grean Algae; Cyanobacteria

  • D:

    DC – Direct Current
    DD – DownDraft, a type of protein skimmer.
    DI – De-ionized water, also known as distilled water depending upon method used to achieve the same results which is completely mieral and ion free water. Reference: Do Fish Drink? Use of RO/DI, Soft Water for Aquarium; Osmoregulation in Fish

  • E:

    None at this time

  • F:

    FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions, acronym of speech
    Fe – Iron
    FO – Fish Only, a type of marine aquarium
    FOWLR – Fish Only With Live Rock, reef aquaria with no corals but with “live rock”
    Frag – Fragment of coral, usually acropora, that grows into a new piece of coral
    Fragging – Similar to above, this is the act of growing new corals using pieces of other corals
    Fuge – Refugium
    FW – Fresh Water

  • G:

    GAL – Gallon
    GBR – German Blue Rams, Mikrogeophagus ramirezi
    GBR – Great Barrier Reef
    GBTA – Green Bubble Tip Anemone
    GFCI – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, an AC plug designed to prevent electrical shock.
    GFI – Ground Fault Interrupter
    GFO – Granular Ferric Oxide, a chemical filtration media generally used for phosphate & silicate removal. Reference: Aquarium/Pond Filter Media

  • GH – General Hardness, a measure of calcium and magnesium. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    GHA – Green Hair Algae. Reference: Aquarium Algae Control
    GPD – Gallons Per Day, a measurement of flow.
    GPH – Gallons Per Hour, a measurement of flow.
    GPM – Gallons Per Minute, a measurement of flow.
    GSA – Green Spot Algae. Reference: Aquarium Algae Control
    GSP – Green Star Polyps

  • H:

    H2S – Hydrogen Sulfide
    HCO3 – Hydrogen Carbonate
    HID – High Intensity Discharge lighting, metal halide and mercury vapor. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete
    HITH – Hole in the Head, a fish ailment, common with cichlids. Reference: Hole in the Head, HITH Disease in Fish
    HLLE – Head and Line Lateral Erosion, a fish ailment, more common in marine species. Reference: What is a lateral line in fish? The functions and diseases of the lateral line
    HO – High Output fluorescent light
    HOB – Hang On Back filter, also a term for a type of skimmer. Reference: Aquarium Filtration
    HQI – Mercury (Hg) Quartz Iodide, a type of metal halide lamp. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete

  • I:

    I – Iodide
    IO3 – Iodate
    IR – Infrared, a type of light with a longer wave length than visible light. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete

  • J:

    None at this time

  • K:

    K – Kelvin rating, color temperature of the light source. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete
    K – Potassium
    KALK or KW- Kalkwasser, German for calcium hydroxide solution or limewater. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    kg/L – kilograms per liter
    KH – Carbonate Hardness, a measure of carbonates. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    KI – Potassium Iodide
    KMnO4 – Chemical formula for potassium permanganate. Reference: Aquarium Medications Part 3; Potassium Permanganate
    kWh – KiloWatt-Hour

  • L:

    L – Liters
    LED – Light Emitting Diodes. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete
    LFS – Local Fish Store (or Shop)
    lm – Lumen, the unit for amount of light from a light source. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete
    LPD – Liter Per Day, a measurement of flow (metric).
    LPH – Litre Per Hour, a measurement of flow (metric).
    LPM – Liters Per Minute, a measurement of flow (metric).
    LPS – Large Polyped Scleractinian, a stony coral, has large and soft polyps. Reference: Acropora Coral Information and Care; Lighting, Amino Acids, more
    LPS – Local Pet Store
    LR – Live Rock, rock with living organisms including nitrifying and de-nitrifying bacteria within it. Reference: Marine Aquarium Care Basics
    LS – Live Sand, sand with living organisms including nitrifying and de-nitrifying bacteria within it.
    LTA – Long Tentacle Anemone
    Lx or Lux – the amount of light per square meter (lm/m2). Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete

  • M:

    Ma- MiliAmps
    MACNA – Marine Aquaria Conference of North America, held annually
    MASNA – Marine Aquarium Societies of North America
    MCF – Midwest Coral Farms, a well known coral farm in the Chicago area.
    MEQ/L – Milli-Equivalents per Liter, a measure of alkalinity.
    Mg – Magnesium, a trace mineral. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    mg/L – Milligrams Per Liter, 1 mg/L = 1 ppm (parts per million).
    MH – Metal Halide light. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete
    MTS – Multiple Tank Syndrome
    Mv – MilliVolts
    MW – Microworms

  • N:

    N – Nitrogen
    Na – Sodium
    NaCO3 – Sodium Carbonate
    NaOH – Sodium Hydroxide
    NH3 – Ammonia, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen. Reference: Aquarium/Pond Nitrogen Cycle
    NH4 – Ammonium, a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen.
    nm – NanoMeter, commonly used as a unit for wavelength(color) of light. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete
    NO2 – Nitrite, a product of ammonia oxidation.
    NO3 – Nitrate, a result of nitrites converted by Nitrobacter bacteria. Reference: Aquarium/Pond Nitrogen Cycle
    NTS – New Tank Syndrome

  • O:

    O2 – Oxygen, a colorless, tasteless, odorless gaseous element OEBT – Orange Eye Blue/Black Tiger shrimp
    ORP – Oxidation Reduction Potential, more correctly now known as Redox balance which is the blance of both Oxidation AND Reduction, both proven to be essential for life, including aquatic. Reference: Aquarium Redox

  • P:

    P – Phosphorus
    PAS – photosynthetic action spectrum, another term for PUR. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete & PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting; LED Wavelengths
    P04 – Phosphate
    PAMR – Professional Aquarium Maintenance & Research. An abbreviation or credential applied to persons with years of experience in professional aquarium/pond keeping and research, as opposed to the many posers lurking in Facebook groups and Yahoo Answers.
    PAR – Photosynthetically Active Radiation. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete & PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting; LED Wavelengths
    PC Power Compact fluorescent light
    pH – Potential Hydrogen, a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. Reference: Aquarium Chemistry Complete
    PNWMAS – Pacific Northwest Aquarium Society
    PO4 – Phosphate
    pods – A popular term for Copepods
    PP – Potassium Permanganate, a chemical used in fish baths & swab as well as used to kill snails, snail eggs, and some parasites. Reference: Aquarium Medications Part 3; Potassium Permanganate
    PPM – Parts Per Million, 1 ppm = 1 mg/L
    PPT – Parts Per Thousand
    PSI – Pounds per Square Inch
    PVC – Poly Vinyl Chloride, used for piping and plumbing.
    PWC – Partial Water Change
    PUR – Photosynthetically Usable Radiation, another term for photosynthetic action spectrum. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete & PUR vs PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting; LED Wavelengths

  • Q:

    QT – Quarantine Tank. Reference: Aquarium Disease Prevention
    QT – Quart of liquid
    QM – Quality Marine USA, generally regarded as the premier seller of wholesale marine livestock, and now freshwater too.

  • R:

    RCS – Red Cherry Shrimp, Neocardinia heteropoda var. ‘red’
    RDSB – Remote Deep Sand Bed
    RO – Reverse Osmosis, a type of water purification that removes most contaminants & minerals, but leaves some ions. Reference: Do Fish Drink? Use of RO, Soft Water for Aquarium; Osmoregulation in Fish
    RO/DI – Reverse Osmosis, followed by De-Ionization, a type of water purification to removal all minerals and mineral ions. The result is 100% neutral water with a pH of 7
    RMA – Return Merchandise Authorization. Many larger aquarium/pond supply retailers requires these be filed before returning defective, damaged, or simply unwanted merchandise. This is often a way to lower return numbers in the same way companies know that many rebate offers are not returned. I suggest to look for online businesses that do NOT require RMAs!
    RTN – Rapid Tissue Necrosis, protozoal infection of corals; can be rapidly fatal if not treated.
    RUGF – Reverse flow UnderGravel Filter

  • S:

    SAE – Siamese Algae Eater, Crossocheilus oblongus
    SAL – Salinity
    SG – Specific Gravity, a measurement of saltwater density, generally the most simple measurement of the amount of salt in a marine aquarium, although not as accurate as an Aquarium Refractometer.
    Si – Silicon
    SPS – Small Polyped Scleractinian, stony corals with very small polyps. Reference: Acropora Coral Information and Care; Lighting, Amino Acids, more
    Sr – Strontium, an alkaline earth metal.
    STN – Sudden Tissue Necrosis, protozoal infection of corals; can be rapidly fatal if not treated.
    SW – Salt Water or Sea Water

  • T:

    T5HO – T5 High Output light bulbs. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete
    TDS – Total Dissolved Solids, the portion of solids in water that can pass through a 2 micron filter. Reference: Do Fish Drink? Use of RO, Soft Water for Aquarium; Osmoregulation in Fish
    TFC – Thin Film Composite, a type of RO membrane.

  • U:

    UGF – Under Gravel Filter, a method of aquarium filtration
    UV – Ultra Violet, a spectrum of light. Commonly the UVC Spectrum is used for aquarium or pond sterilization and clarification as well as improved Redox balance by better UV Sterilizers generally found at higher end retailers. Reference: Aquarium/Pond UV Sterilization
    UVC – The effective sterilization spectrum of UV light energy

  • V:

    V – Volt
    VHO -Very High Output, a type of fluorescent light. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete

  • W:

    W – Watts, a unit of power
    W/D or WD- Wet-dry, a method of aquarium filtration that is excellent at ammonia/nitrite removal, but also often results in high nitrates. Often used in the wrong aquarium applications and is often incorrectly recommended, especially for planted aquariums. Reference: Aquarium Filtration
    W/gal – Watts per Gallon
    WC – Water Change
    WC/PWC – Water Change/Partial Water Change
    WCMM – White Cloud Mountain Minnow
    WPG – Watts Per Gallon, a generally outdated method of measuring light requirements, however it is still useful when comparing apples to apples. Reference: Aquarium Lighting; Complete

  • X:

    None at this time

  • Y:

    None at this time

  • Z:

    ZC – Zoanthid Coral, a family of corals. Reference: Zoanthid Reef Aquarium Care & Lighting

A similar but LESS accurate list can be found here:
About Home; Aquarium Acronyms
It misses VERY important terms such as PUR and PAS while missing important leaders of the aquarium hobby/industry too

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2 responses to “Helpful Aquarium & Pond Keeping Acronyms, Abbreviations

  1. Pingback: Aquarium Fluidized Bed Filter Review; TMC V2, Merlin, Lifeguard | Aquarium Supplies, Resources

  2. Pingback: Unique Aquarium (& Pond) Information Articles | Aquarium Supplies, Resources

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