A UV sterilizer is an underrated yet ultimate solution to keep your aquarium free from algae and parasites. We know you want your pets safe from harm, so we figured you need this guide to educate you about this overlooked tank equipment.
So here’s the truth about UV sterilizers in aquariums—they kill the sneakiest, free-floating microorganisms that can compromise the beauty of your aquarium and the health of your pets.
It sounds just like your conventional filtration, right? So what’s the use of a UV sterilizer for aquarium then?
The UV sterilizer is a tube of ultra-violet light that kills unicellular organisms by a direct attack into their DNA. The UV light is cancerous, so its impact on tiny organisms is fatal.
However, that doesn’t put a tank owner in danger. You have to learn the proper way to use it. Thus, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide for you.
How To Install a UV Sterilizer
Consider UV sterilizers as a functional accessory. They provide excellent lighting to your tank, anyway.
The thing with a UV light for aquariums is that it doesn’t require too much work for installation, unlike your whole filtration system. It can be both advantageous and disadvantageous.
It is a blessing because it means you only have to follow these little steps:
- Filter the aquarium (mechanical) like your usual routine.
- Let the water to pass through the UV sterilizer.
- Put the water back into the aquarium.
It’s easy. However, it doesn’t stop there. You still have to keep a few essential things in your mind as you move into that process. Your UV is just like your normal light at home. You need to know the right bulb wattage and understand its effect on what it’s illuminating.
When we choose our lighting at home, we consider factors such as our eyes’ health and the brightness fit for our space. With a UV light for aquariums, you need to see how it brings out the colors of your fish and ornaments, too.
Another important thing is if the bulb wattage you have is enough to protect your aquatic pets’ health. Yes, you can’t just ignore it if your light bulb loses its sharpness.
The efficiency of a UV sterilizer for aquariums depends on the bulb’s level of radiance. Just look at it this way: If the view of your tank gets cloudy, then it’s a sign that your fish might no longer be healthy.
Types of UV Sterilizers
Just like your filter systems, UV sterilizers for aquariums come in more than only one design. Tanks alone vary in styles, so your UV light has to keep up with these structural differences.
Your UV sterilizers will look the same—tube-type with a visible in-and-out mechanism. They have distinctions on how they connect with tanks.
Inline UV Sterilizer
This UV sterilizer is the most common. It follows the general steps mentioned above in installing a UV light for aquariums.
The inline UV sterilizer aquariums connect to external filter sources, which are your tank’s existing systems. Your primary filtration system will pair up with the UV light to eliminate all the unwanted organisms in your tank.
Below are the steps to take for this integration:
- Attach the UV sterilizer edge-wise.
- Observe that the inflow comes from the bottom while the outflow is at the upper end of the device.
- If possible, place the outlet ports of the UV light in cross directions to optimize the equipment performance.
Stand-Alone UV Sterilizer
If you want a UV sterilizer that works alone like Superman, this is what you should look for. The inline UV sterilizer aquariums that you are most fond of is more like a Batman and Robin dynamic.
A stand-alone UV light for aquariums has its internal filter and pump set. It just helps the outflow of your canister using its water flow.
That is the only relation this UV sterilizer needs with your main tank. That is to ensure that it does its job of defeating bacteria, algae, and parasites.
Here’s how you install it:
- It is a plug and play system, so connect it to the power supply.
- One bulb should be in the tank’s water.
- The other bulb should be outside the aquarium.
How To Maintain a UV Sterilizer
The part of the UV sterilizer that requires the most maintenance is the quartz sleeve. It protects your UV bulbs from temperature changes.
It also prevents radiation from spreading into the water. You don’t want your fish dying in that tragic manner or risking your health, too.
Here are ways to avoid these complications:
- Determine when to clean your quartz sleeves.
- Check the quartz sleeve after one week of use.
- Re-check every week until you spot something off with it.
- The first two steps will help you identify your cleaning cycle.
- If the quartz sleeves get foul after four weeks, cleaning should be every three weeks.
Cleaning the quartz sleeves
- Switch off your water supply.
- Press the pressure button.
- As pressure leaves the cartridges, unplug the power.
- Ensure that the UV device is not too hot. Give it a 10-minute cooling period.
- Lift the safety cap of the UV light by squeezing the tabs (keep strain relief wires connected).
- Remove the sleeve assembly and sleeve bolt from the chamber.
- Hold the sleeve bolt to unscrew the UV bulb.
- Unscrew the sleeve bolt itself.
- Remove the o-rings from the quartz sleeve.
- Use vinegar or mild acid to soak a clean, soft cloth.
- Wipe the lamp with it and rinse with water when done.
When to replace the quartz sleeves
Replace it every 2-3 years to maintain its quality and to keep it operating on top performance.
What Affects UV Sterilizer’s Performance?
Since we’ve already compared the UV sterilizer for aquariums to Superman, it’s time to know its Kryptonite. Your little hero can’t serve its purpose if external factors around it remain unadjusted.
The higher the wattage, the stronger the sterilizer is. As the bulb ages, its germicidal properties also weaken. Observe a 6-month replacement to avoid this. You should know that UV light works best within a temperature range of 104-110F.
Organisms in the aquarium have different skills like Superman’s villains. The UV light has to prepare according to their resistance level.
This light emits radiation that kills viruses, bacteria, algae, and protozoa. Large enemies like protozoa need a higher UV dose.
The small bacteria need less UV dose, but some of them are more resistant than others. That is when you will face the challenge of picking the right radiation for complete coverage.
The UV sterilizer has the word sterilizer attached to it for a reason. That is to absorb microorganisms for more than a few minutes.
More prolonged exposure to UV radiation can kill more parasites or ensure that all larger organisms die. One technique to extend the contact time is to have slow water flow rates.
Also, size is important for UV lights. The longer the bulb, the deadlier it is as an assassin to unwanted algae. Long bulbs also increase contact time.
Your UV light has to penetrate the water in your aquarium. High water turbidity can cause its failure.
That is why you always place the sterilizer after the biological and mechanical filters. A clean quartz sleeve also ensures that your UV can pass through your tank’s water.
What Is the Best UV Sterilizer for Your Aquarium?
Now that you already know how vital UV light for aquariums is, it’s time you learn the best UV sterilizer aquariums for your aquarium.
There are a lot of technical features in these devices that you’d need our guide.
Going back to the Superman analogy, your UV sterilizer has a lot of sophisticated attributes that make up its power.
Superman has variations according to his character interpretation in movies and comics. Your UV hero’s appeal differs by brand.
This brand comes as a must-have package of everything you need for successful UV sterilization. It is one of the best UV sterilizer aquarium that owners will find easy and efficient to manage.
It has a good 6 gallons per minute flow rate, which we consider high performance. Its life is also long, lasting up to 9000 hours so you won’t have to replace it too soon after weeks of usage.
This package has two UV tubes in it, too. You can use both at once or leave the other as a spare.
I would say that it can also help with extending your contact time as it measures 22 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches. Along with its 25-watt bulb, it can assure you that all undesirable microorganisms in your tank will die, no doubt.
Think of that feature as Superman’s heat vision that can make explosions. Your UV light is a silent blaster executing viruses, algae, and bacteria with no sound.
This brand has many similarities with our first product in terms of rates. It also has 25 watts for its bulbs.
The package comes with three lamps, while the first product only has two. It is also longer with dimensions 30.5 x 5 x 3.9 inches.
Let’s call this the Superman before the most recent version. That’s the best way to compare this product with the first one.
This inline UV sterilizer aquariums that can blend in your aquarium is my favorite. This UV light has a seamless frame, so you don’t have to worry about compromises with your tank view.
The submersible pump is its best asset with a rate of 130GHP. It is more than the average high-performance pump.
The replaceable light also has a lifespan of 8000 hours. That gives your fish longer protection.
Its 254nm wavelength also creates a decent contact length to kill all your aquarium pests. I would compare this UV sterilizer to Superman’s strength, as this one is all about excellent rates.
Do you remember how UV light has a sensitive relation with water conditions? This model will spare you from the maintenance required for that.
They made this UV sterilizer out of 304 stainless steel and quartz glass that can surpass temperature changes, pressure, and pH levels. This easy-to-maintain feature also aligns with its no-fuss horizontal installation.
A horizontal installation secures you need for longer contact time. That makes it quick for this sterilizer to degrade the DNA of every harmful parasite in your tank.
The lamp life of this product is 8760 hours, which makes it a runner-up for our first pick on this aspect.
This brand has the most traditional look. It’s not like the frameless products above.
However, it has a reliable efficiency that can compete with other brands. It can clear even the algae blooms that are not visible yet contribute to water cloudiness.
Its sleeve is also a swirl that maximizes its performance, unlike the basic sleeves that other brands have. Even though the device looks heavy to operate, it’s easy to install and use.
I would say this is the Clark Kent of all these Superman versions. It’s not the best-looking, but it’s still a hero in disguise.
UV sterilizers for aquariums are real heroes. I know that I compared them all with Superman, but the selection above shows that each tank owner gets to pick their hero.
Here, we suggest that you weigh down all the critical conditions of your existing tank before choosing the best UV sterilizer aquarium with which it needs complete compatibility.
All UV sterilizers in the market can kill unwelcome parasites, bacteria, and algae. You can choose one that will solve whatever issue your tank is dealing with.
Superman does not assist people who don’t need help. Get a UV hero that will fit your aquarium’s situation.
Featured image by City.and.Color.