Aquarium UV Sterilizers Explained


Hey everyone, Steve Poland here, And this week I wanted to talk about a piece
of equipment that can improve the clarity, cleanliness, and overall health of your aquarium:
a UV sterilizer. They’re very commonly used in ponds but they
can also be used in aquariums to eliminate various water-born microorganisms including
free-floating algae. And the concept is pretty simple. It’s a tube that contains a fluorescent lamp
that produces light of a specific wavelength. The water flows over or around the bulb and
as the light hits the bacteria or algae, its DNA mutates which prevents it from growing. The result is cleaner, clearer aquarium water. There are two common designs for these sterilizers. Some of them are self-contained and hang inside
the tank. They have their own powerhead and are very
easy to install. I’ll link to one of these down in the description. The larger versions look like this one and
can be plumbed in line with your canister filter. If you unscrew the cap you see the bulb which
is housed inside a quartz sleeve. That sleeve insulates the bulb from the cooler
aquarium water and allows it to maintain a higher UV output. Plumbing them is really simple, especially
if the size of the tubing from your canister filter output matches the size of the intake
and output of the sterilizer. You want to keep it on the output side of
your filter so that the water is as clean as possible when it hits the sterilizer. So just cut that output hose and attach it
to the intake of the sterilizer. Then attach the other end to the sterilizer
output. Now in general, the longer the water is being
exposed to the UV light, the more effective it will be. This is referred to as contact time or “dwell
time” and there are several factors that can influence this. One is the flow rate of the filter. Second is the size of the aquarium which,
along with the flow rate, determine the turnover time of your filter. Third is the size of the sterilizer and length
of the bulb. And fourth is the power rating of the bulb. So if you have a really great filter with
a high flow rate on a big tank and a small or weak sterilizer bulb then it’s not going
to be super efficient. So my advice would be to research what you’re
buying and read the manufacturer recommendations and compare them to the specs of your canister
filter. One of the most popular is the Turbo Twist
line by Coralife and I’ll link to that down in the description as well. Now there are a few other things to keep in
mind with these sterilizers. Most important is that these are NOT a replacement
for good filtration, water changes, and routine maintenance. I like to think of them as a supplement to
help get you to that next level of clarity. Another thing to keep in mind is that the
organisms that are impacted by the sterilizer must actually flow through it. The UV light has no residual effect and it
won’t kill organisms attached to fish (like Ich) or your rocks or glass (like algae),
because they do not flow through the unit. And lastly, there are a couple of times when
a sterilizer should absolutely not be used. When first cycling the aquarium, because it
could kill the beneficial bacteria before they get a chance attach to your bio-media
or substrate. And when medicating your tank, as some medications
could be rendered ineffective by the UV light. So what do you think about these sterilizers? Let me know down in the comments. And if this is your first time here at this
channel then I would love to have you subscribe. Because each week I bring you a new video
sharing my experiences in the aquarium hobby. I give updates on my tanks, review products,
show you DIY projects, and share tips and tricks to help you take
your tank to the next level. Hit subscribe to follow along. Have a good one!

Comments 32

  • Good info Steve

  • nice vid steve

  • how much did that that. UV run ya? and what size of a tank is itbfor

  • you explained everything great I just wish you would show the process in Greater detail

  • Absolutely great video – I've looked at these and actually have one I'm about to intall – you've convinced me it's a good choice on my 125 gallon. Now, I'm ready to give it a serious try. Thanks.

  • Have you seen these hooked up to an FX6? Do you think it would work? I've been thinking about getting one after a columnaris outbreak I had but I only have 2 FX6'S.

  • Brilliant video steve my pea soup tank has changed completely since I added the new uv steriliser I wouldn't be without it now 👏👏👌

  • I have coralife 6x and its in my sump with a small pump

  • What recommended uv sterilizer would u recommend for my JBJ 45 reef? I've been curious about adding one… Just concerned nano versions are really to small to even accomplish what they claim … Nice vid

  • Steve – I have recently set up a 65 gal tank. After two weeks I added an Emerald Pleco and a Lace Syno. They are nice and cozy and I'm now looking for a good mbuna. I live a mile from That Fish Place, you may have seen their website as they do a lot of aquarium supplies/livestock shipments, and are the largest fish store in the world (lucky me). The bad/good side: way too many options! So my question is, what mbunas have you kept that you really liked, or stood out to you either by colors or personality/behaviors? I have many options at my disposal, so feel free to name them off. The reason I really can't just go to the store and look at them is because there are about 4 huge aisles of levels of all kinds of cichlids, and they are all very young and hard to tell appearance. These fish will be quarantined for a month in a 37 gal before adding to my main display.
    Also, I'm only looking for one species, thats why I'm taking all the opinion I can get for investing.
    Thank you!
    Vaughn

  • Nice video!

  • Good topic and bringing clarity and your water to the next level sums it up perfectly well done Steve.

  • oh no I hope copper is ok to use while the uv sterilizer is on?

  • awesome video, lots of info.. I have a 300g reef tank with a 75 gallon sump… I got a asm 39 watt uv sterilizer for it.. do you think I would be fine with that uv? I really couldn't find info on that uv.. got it used fro. a friend

  • Steve thank you so much for this video it was great information, I have a question I have 125 gallon tank and I'm using an FX6 canister filter for fresh water tank and want to add UV sterilizer emperor aquatics 25 watt but I'm not to sure the best way to hook it up to my canister, what would recommend how to connect it to get the best reresults, thanks

  • So what UV sterilizer would you recommend if not the emperor, to match up to the FX6 I hope you don't mine me asking, thanks

  • hmm Ok I'll give that some thought' thanks again' and ill be back' you're top of the line thank you so much for your guidance its well appreciated

  • Omfg, 3 min of your big face, no visual of product use..

  • I use a Green Killing machine Internal 3 watt for my 20 gallon planted tank. Seems to to work well!!!

  • I love my UV Steve… no idea if it really works… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwH8VTuSxIk

  • hi, I am using a top filter and a inner filter for my 5 feet gold fish tank, do i still need a UV sterilizer???

  • it stop Mycobacterium to reproduce, and this need to be highlighted

  • Good video. How many hours a day would you recommend turning the UV on? And also, how frequently?

  • HELLO. I have an 18 W LED UV Blacklight that puts out a wave length of 395-405nm. Will this clarify my 15G fishtank????

  • Hi Steve,

    I just got a green killing machine UV sterilizer (24 W)for my 75 gallon freshwater aquarium. Im planning to replace the tank with a 120 gallon tank. Can I still use the same sterilizer? Or is there any better one? What do u recommend?

  • I just replaced the largest "Green Killing machine" in my 75 gallon CA cichlid tank with the Coralife TurboTwist 6x UV sterilizer. The "Killing Machine" didn't even last 6 months and it was a big ugly plastic  monster in my tank. I hope I have better luck with the Coralife.

  • TBH I wouldn't use them in an aquarium because it will prevent a natural ecosystem from developing. They WILL kill most bacteria, if not all. They use UV sterilizers for making tap water drinkable before adding chlorine.

    They are mostly used in ponds because you get wildlife dropping all kinds of nasty bacteria in them which kills fish.

  • hey i have silly question,,, UV light causes caner right? so if you are using it in your fish tank isn;t the water gonna be full of uv ray cancer causing rays right??? that might cause cancer while you are doing maintenece and stuffs, isnt it so? sorry for asking a dumb quesiton…i was just wondering…also i am a germiphone and i get really touchy with some subjects..will the uv ray stabilizer cause skin cancer??

  • DNA mutation aren't always bad for bacteria. Mutation can cause resistance to treatments.

  • Does they work 24×7

  • Will a 7w uv sterilizer work for 75gallon tank? My pump has flow rate of 1500L per hour. Thanks

  • Hi does a uv sterilizer decrease flow ??

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