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Ultraviolet Sterilizers - Purpose, Advantages and Disadvantages

What is an Ultraviolet Sterilizer and how does it work?

Ultraviolet sterilizers have been around for many years but were mostly used for outdoors ponds, nowadays they are becoming more popular with aquarium keepers and can serve a useful purpose for them. They work basically by pumping the water over a tube that produces Ultraviolet rays, this will remove from the water any unwanted microscopic bacteria, parasites,fungal cells and even pathogens. It will also prevent a lot of algal growth in the tank as the rays will destroy a high percentage of algal spores that are present in the water. The Ultraviolet rays actually penetrate the living cells of these microscopic creatures and destroys their DNA making them lifeless and they quickly die off. There is a mixed consensus of opinion as to whether these are a worthwhile investment in the aquarium, some keepers swear by them while others shy away from them and prefer to control the water quality by other means.

The most common Ultraviolet Sterilizer available to purchase nowadays is the Quartz sleeved type but they are also available in the tray type, these are where the UV bulbs are suspended above a tray of slow moving water and the casing that the bulbs are enclosed in is usually made from a reflective material to bounce all of the rays into the water flow.

There is also the Wet tube type where the tube is enclosed in a waterproof tube and the water will pass directly in front of the tube. The Quartz type houses the tube in a Quartz sleeve which protects the tube from contact with the water and these are usually the most effective as the tubes can be cleaned on a regular basis without too much trouble.

How do I know which Ultraviolet Sterilizer I need for my aquarium?

Ultraviolet Sterilizers are normally rated on the wattage of the tube, smaller tanks up to 40 gallons will require up to a 10 watts unit, larger tanks up to 100 gallons will need a 20-25 watt unit and any tanks larger than this can go up to units that run on 40 watts. It is very important to use the Ultraviolet unit that is rated for your tank size, if it is not large enough it will not be effective and if it is too large it may sterilize your water too much making it too pure for the fish. It is also important that the water flow passes through the unit at the correct speed so that it can control the impurities efficiently, as most units are linked to the filters of the aquarium it may mean slowing the filters down slightly to get the correct water flow. One important point to remember when fixing one of these units to the tank is always place after the filter, if the unit is placed before the filter it can destroy some of the beneficial bacteria that the filter depends on.

Ultraviolet Sterilizers, picture 1 Ultraviolet Sterilizers, picture 2 UUltraviolet Sterilizers, picture 3 Ultraviolet Sterilizers, picture 4 Ultraviolet Sterilizers, picture 5

Key points on running an Ultraviolet Sterilizer:-

Advantages of using an Ultraviolet Sterilizer:-

Disadvantages of using an Ultraviolet Sterilizer:-

Ultraviolet Sterilizers have changed a lot over the years, when they were first available to purchase for pond keepers and aquarium keepers they were separate units and very bulky, nowadays they are much more slimline and also much more efficient. Many of the leading filter manufacturers will often have them built into the filtration systems so that they are out of sight and work as soon as the filter is switched on. This innovation was first used in pond filtration and proved to be very popular, Hozelock provide various sized filtration units for different water volumes. Eheim have brought out a range of aquarium filters with built in Ultraviolet Sterilizers, this has proven to be of a great benefit to keepers with restricted space in their cabinets and keeps all of the equipment tidy and neat.

I hope that reading through this article helps you to understand how these units work and help you to make up your mind as to whether it is worth you investing in one for your aquarium or pond.

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