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Fish Speak: Common Fish Terms Defined

Any time you pursue a new interest, it is important to learn the terminology used by experienced hobbyists, and it’s best to do it before you make any decisions or purchases. To successfully set up and maintain an aquarium and its residents, a basic knowledge of aquarium and fish terms is important. It will help you converse with other enthusiasts, aquarium store personnel, and understand books and references. This article will define basic terms of environment, water chemistry, anatomy, disease and equipment. As your experience grows, you will want to consult more specialized references.


Everyone knows that fish are found all over the world and in a variety of climates. Fish from similar climates and water conditions often live together happily. Some should not be combined due to their extreme differences in natural environments.


Looking at an aquarium with no fish isn’t that entertaining but you would be surprised at the number of chemical and biological reactions that are occurring every second. Water is very dynamic and many factors influence its quality. Water quality is the number one concern for any aquarium.


Fish have a unique anatomy and it helps to know a few things about their parts. Many times, you can make health determinations by looking at their general appearance, and also recognize disease in those organs you can’t see.


Fish suffer from a variety of diseases cause by parasites, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Many are common and you should learn to recognize infected individuals to avoid the purchase of a sick fish or remove one from your show tank


The number and types of tanks and equipment available for aquarium set up is limited only by your budget. Initially, start with a simple tank with basic equipment until you learn more about your hobby and specific needs of your fish. Basic supplies will include: