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  1. #1
    Moderator ShipWreck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004


    Lighting Terms

    NO– Normal Output – This refers to standard fluorescent lighting. Normally not used in marine systems due to their low output power.

    PC – Power Compact – This is essentially a fluorescent tube bent in half. It provides a higher output then standard fluorescent lights.

    VHO – Very High Output - These lamps put out higher power then a standard lamp (110w for a 4’ bulb) and are often used in combination with MH’s to provide actinic supplementation. Note: The lighting industry is moving to no longer manufacture the T12 VHO bulbs due to their power draw and inefficiencies.

    T5 – T5 Regular Output - A new style smaller fluorescent bulb. Not recommended for reef systems with coral due to low output.

    T5HO – T5 High Output –
    This is the newest and most efficient of all of the fluorescent lighting options. The T5HO lights require a quality individual reflector for each lamp and are capable of meeting the lighting needs of all corals depending on the tank depth. Commonly used as the sole lighting source or in combination with metal halides. T5 and T5HO bulbs and ballasts are not interchangeable so careful attention when purchasing these is required to ensure they are HO models.

    MH – Metal Halide –
    These have been the staple of the aquarium lighting for many years now. They are available in a variety of power levels (70w, 150w, 250w, 400w, 1000w) as well as either Single Ended bulbs (SE) or as double ended bulbs (HQI). To operate a MH a ballast is required which also comes in two types, Electronic and Magnetic. Each ballast is rated to run a specific lamp wattage (ex. 250w) and should then work with any lamp of that size.

    T5/T8/T12 –
    Fluorescent lighting sizes – Fluorescent tubes come in a variety of diameters and rate based on 1/8” increments. A T8 lamp for example is 8 x 1/8” so it is 1” in diameter. A T12 is 1.5” in diameter and a T5 is 5/8” in diameter.


    BB – Bare Bottom – This refers to having no substrate on the bottom of the tank. This method is often favored by those who wish to employ very high flows in the tank. The advantage is that detritus will remain suspended to be removed by the skimmer and is not allowed to accumulate on the bottom. The disadvantage is that some fish and invertebrates require a sand bed for protection or a food source and therefore cannot be maintained in a bare bottom system.

    SSB – Shallow Sand Bed – This indicates a sand bed that is usually 1”-2” (2.5cm-5cm) deep on the bottom of the aquarium. This is primarily an aesthetic sand bed as it will provide little filtering benefits however it will support some of the life that require a sand bed allowing a wider range of fish or invertebrates to be maintained.

    DSB – Deep Sand Bed – This is a sand bed that is at least 6” (15cm) deep in the display tank and is normally made from fine sand. The depth of this sand bed allows de-nitrification to occur at the oxygen deprived area at the bottom. Using this in a display can be problematic if fish or inverts dig into the sand where they can release the gases that are produced by the de-nitrification process.

    VDSB – Very Deep Sand Bed – This is like a DSB but is 10” (25cm) or greater.

    RDSB/RVDSB – Remote Deep Sand Bed/Remote Very Deep Sand Bed – The key here is the word Remote. Remote can refer to either in the refugium or in a large vat or bucket connected to the system. This method has become very popular in place of a DSB/VDSB as it does not take up space in the display tank and cannot be disturbed by tunneling fish or invertabrates. In addition a remote system also allows for a easier removal or replacement of the DSB if that is required.

    Refugium – Also know as Fuge –
    This is an area of low flow in a separate tank placed either above the main tank or as part of the sump below the display. A fuge is simply a place to add additional live rock, DSB, or macro-algae (commonly cheatomorpha aka. Cheato), and a small light (to support the macro-algae). As the macro-algae grows manual removal of a portion will allow for nutrient export. In addition this area allows a large population of beneficial “critters” to grow and reproduce in a predator free environment, that adds a food source for the main tank.
    Upgrade in the works! Keep looking for an update.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ThisGeekyChick's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Very nicely done ShipWreck.

    If you don't mind I'd like to add this..

    Types of tank setups:

    FW - Fresh water
    SW - Salt water
    FO - Fish Only
    FOWLR - Fish only with live rock
    Reef - Live rock, invertebrates, corals, anemones, fish


    LFS - Local fish store
    LPS - Local pet store


    LR - Live rock
    SPS - Small Polyped Stony Coral
    LPS - Large Polyped Stony Coral
    Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Very informative!

    A lot of these things I just guessed but now I know!

    Thanks a lot
    Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better -Albert Einstein

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