A UV sterilizer is a filtration device designed to keep the aquarium healthy and clean. Fish cannot survive in a dirty aquarium for a long time. Dirt is easy to accumulate and disease to spread and so filters are used.
Normal filters pull the water through a mechanical cleaning frame and then return it to the aquarium. Even if the water comes cleaner, microorganisms can still survive.
Aquarium UV sterilizers are ultraviolet light tubes that act on the DNA of free-floating microorganisms and are used to kill them. They work in a similar way to the filters that work by pulling off normal aquarium water.
Water is pumped through a crystalline assembly and passed through a high-intensity ultraviolet light. The device is covered with an opaque canister to prevent ultraviolet light from reaching the rest of your tank.
Benefits of UV Sterilization
Any tropical, saltwater, and reef aquarium with sufficient space should have a UV sterilizer like. The cell membranes of microorganisms exposed to ultraviolet light can tear or their DNA (or RNA) can be destroyed. This is an effective way to reduce disease outbreaks in your aquarium.
It is the most effective way to kill most bacteria, viruses, and parasites before they infect our fish. Also, microalgae floating in water are destroyed by UV systems. You can add some clean water by removing dead algae and make the necessary water changes. Algae can be extremely problematic for both beginners and experienced aquarists. Therefore, it is a good sterilization system that every aquarium owner should have.
The effectiveness of the sterilizer depends on its ability to expose the microorganism to sufficient UV light. Different sizes and types need different amounts of light to kill them.
The killing dose of the organism UV rays (Mikrowatt seconds per square centimeter)
Bacteria: 15,000 – 30,000
Algae: 22,000 – 30,000
Single cells: 90,000
Three factors affect the sterilizer’s performance: bulb strength, contact time, and UV penetration.
Bulb Power: The higher the wattage of the bulb, the more rays it shows with microorganisms. To ensure their good functioning, we usually need to replace the bulbs twice a year.
Contact Time: The more microorganisms come into contact with UV light, the more they can destroy. This is related to the flow rate of the sterilizer. Slower flow means longer exposure to UV light. They require different amounts of UV light and, consequently, different flow rates to kill different microorganisms. Longer bulbs can be more effective as they will expose harmful organisms to the same UV rays longer.
UV Penetration: To kill microorganisms in your home aquarium, UV light must be able to reach them. If the water is too turbid, the UV light may not be able to penetrate effectively. Also, a film layer or mineral deposit that will form on the bulb may prevent the passage of some of the light. Therefore, we need to place the sterilizer after the mechanical or biological filter. It is also important to keep the lamp and its container clean.
UV Sterilizers offer the opportunity of cleaning with a high rate of 99.9% of the microorganisms in the water. Therefore, we do not need extra treatment or disinfection methods for our aquarium water.
Things to consider when buying a UV sterilization filter
If our aquarium has a well maintained and unpopulated population and we follow good quarantine procedures when adding new fish to their systems, we may not need a UV sterilization filter. If we are considering purchasing a UV sterilization filter, here are some things to consider:
It is effective when it operates 24/7.
Provides direct proportion to the cleaning of our aquarium water.
New or regular replacement of the bulb to be used (at least every 6-8 months).
If water passes through the bulb too fast, its efficiency may decrease. Water exposure time to UV light should be longer than one second.
If there is a slight clogging, such as a salt-coated bulb, the efficiency of the UV light may decrease.
Once a disease is completely erased from the aquarium, it can help prevent recurrences of future waterborne diseases.
UV light kills not only unwanted organisms but also useful ones.
UV light should not be operated during the feeding period, as it may destroy beneficial microscopic organisms that are the inspiration for some reef aquarium fish.
Only when floating through UV light, organisms that freely float in the water are destroyed, that is, it does not treat a disease that is already in our fish.
It should never be operated while being treated with any medication or medicine.
UV can also change the structure of some dissolved chemical compounds.
UV light can damage the human eye, so we should not look at the light bulb.
Always unplug the unit when working on it to prevent possible shocks if it breaks or gets wet.