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Robyn's Glossary Page

Last Updated: 5/31/08

Here are some terms dealing with ponds and pond-related animals such as fish, frogs, and turtles. For the definition of chemical terms (pH, hardness, etc.), see the section on chemicals of interest to ponders. This list is not meant to be all inclusive in any way whatsoever. I created this glossary exclusively for my pond book at first. These are just some non-common words that aquarium and pond keepers as well as fish, frog, and turtle lovers might find of interest!

Adipose fin = an extra fleshy fin found on many catfish such as plecostomus and some other fish, located behind the dorsal fin.

Aerobic = oxygen rich (noun) or requiring and using oxygen (adjective); nitrifying bacteria are aerobic.

Amplexis = the mating of amphibians, male grasps female tightly while sitting on her.

Anaerobic = oxygen poor (noun) or requiring an oxygen-poor environment (adjective); many anaerobic bacteria found in ponds produce hydrogen sulfide and methane as byproducts which not only stink but can poison fish.

Anal fin = the fin that is right in front of the vent on the bottom of the fish.

Autotrophic = self-sustaining, do not require outside food sources (not including inorganics); for example, nitrifying bacteria (the good bacteria) are autotrophic as they only need ammonia or nitrite on which to feed depending on the species.

Barbels = paired "whiskers" found on some fish such as many catfish and danios; found under the chin.

Carapace = the top shell on a turtle's back, includes the spine.

Caudal fin = tail fin.

Detritus = accumulated debris at the bottom of an aquarium or pond; composed of decomposing plant leaves, other vegetation, dead animals, wastes, leftover food, and other decomposing organic entities; once decomposed, this becomes mulm/sludge.

Diurnal = active in the daylight and sleeps at night.

Dorsal fin = the fin on the back of the fish.

Eutrophication = when a pond goes bad due to the addition of two many nutrients; algae proliferate, oxygen levels plummet, and animals die off.

Flashing = when fish turn their bodies sideways and quickly rub themselves on something, normally a rock or something hard on the bottom. The fish appear to be scratching themselves. This may be indicative of a skin irritant, perhaps an external parasite such as ick or fish lice, but healthy fish may "flash" on occasion. Anything that makes the fish itchy may result in flashing.

Fry = fish larvae or newborn fish.

Gonopodium = modified anal fin found on male livebearers (guppies, platies, mosquito fish, mollies, swordtails, etc.) that is used to deliver sperm into the female livebearer's vent.

Gravid Spot = the dark area near the vent of a female livebearer; when pregnant, the gravid spot enlarges due to the presence of developing fry; a virgin female livebearer has just a tiny spot not due to fry.

Heterotrophic = not self-sustaining, requires input from other sources; for example, heterotrophic bacteria use decomposing plants and animals on which to feed.

Larvae = immature, young insects, amphibians, or fish. In the case of amphibians and insects, the larvae often look completely unlike the adults.

Lateral line = the horizontal line that goes down the center of a fish's body, has pits in it to sense movement.

Mulm = accumulated sludge of deteriorated/decomposed organic material in the bottom of a pond such as decomposed leaves; may be called the "black gold" of pond keeping; good fertilizer for terrestrial plants.

Neotonic = when an amphibian permanently remains in its larval aquatic state with gills instead of changing into an adult with lungs that lives on land; the amphibian lives and breeds in this state.

Nocturnal = active during the night, in the dark, and sleeps during the day.

Operculum = gill covers.

Ovipositor = a fleshy protuberance from the vent of a sexually mature or breeding female, egg-laying fish.

Pectoral fin = the paired fins found on the sides of the fish near the front, used to maneuver, the swimming fins.

Peduncle = stalk; for example, the caudal peduncle is the fleshy body part to which the tail fin is attached.

Piscivores = fish that eat other fish almost exclusively.

Plastron = the bottom shell on a turtle's tummy.

Ponder (noun) = not a real word but I and others use it as a synonym for pond keeper or watergardener. Someone pointed out to my in May 2008 that "ponder" is a word but as a verb. I was referring to its use as a noun. I will have to ponder that.

PORG = Pond-Oriented Recreational Group or a member or such group; normally used in reference to the newsgroup rec.ponds.

Pupae = the immobile, incased transition state for insects between larvae and adult.

Rheotropism = the turning of a plant's leaves into the direction of water flow.

Scutes = the individual plates on the carapace of a turtle; may be pentagons, hexagons, etc.

Silt = accumulated small inorganic particles composed of rock, dirt, and sand; generally harmless except that it may cloud water if not settled and may contain inorganic phosphates, nitrates, etc.

Stagnation = a pond stagnates when there is little or no water movement or replacement resulting in an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria and algae; may result in the death of animals; stagnant ponds stink and may contain certain aquatic insect larvae such as mosquitoes and rat-tailed maggots.

Superfoetation = the ability of a female livebearer to store sperm over a period of weeks or months to fertilize subsequent batches of fry.

Tubercles = bumps on the snouts and sometimes the leading rays of the pectoral fins on breeding male fish; goldfish, koi, rosy red minnows, fathead minnows, orangethroat darters, and red shiners are some of the fish who get them; often confused with the disease ick.

Turion = certain tubers like the tuber of the arrowhead plant are called turions. They are round and walnut-sized.

Vent = opening in the fish from which feces and eggs or sperm are expelled or in the case of livebearers, where the babies come out; also called the anus.

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