Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilizer, Clarifier Reviews; Problems, Bulbs

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AQUARIUM AND POND UV STERILIZER REVIEW/ ARTICLES;
Information Articles (Posts), Ideas, Comments, & Links to even more Information about how UV (UVC) Sterilization works in Aquariums/ Ponds.
For a COMPLETE up to date article about aquarium and pond uv sterilization, please visit this site:
UV Sterilization in Aquariums and Ponds; How it works

For all Articles, from basic to advanced, such as UVC, Watts, mW/cm2, please scroll down the Right Side Bar of this site for easy links

UV Sterilizers Gimmicks; 'Turbo' Twists, Baffles Wipers

 

Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilizers Gimmicks; Baffles (Twists), Wipers, Filters with Built-In UV Sterilizers, Poor Ballasts, Proprietary UV-C bulbs/Lamps.
As well as simply over priced for the quality of the UV Sterilizer.

SECTIONS INCLUDED IN THIS ARTICLE/REVIEW:


Updated 9/6/13

Overview


There are many gimmicks surrounding some UV Sterilizers currently on the market, some based in assumptions that are good, others not so much.

I will emphasize as I have in earlier posts as well as my full Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilization Article that flow rate is the most important parameter as to UV Sterilizer effectiveness. This flow should be under 20-25 gph per watt for sterilization and 40-50 gph per watt for algae control (aka Clarification).
http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumUVSterilization.html

The other two important parameters are turnover rate and UV-C Penetration.

*Another often over rated UV part is the quartz sleeve (although not useless). Even though I use and recommend Via Aqua Terminator UV Sterilizers and others which have these. I have found little difference in units with and without quartz sleeves (the exception being cold water applications such as Trout). The quartz sleeve also needs to be cleaned upon changing the bulbs every six months to a year and sometimes more often. This said, most all UV Sterilizers are designed with Quartz Sleeves, both top notch UV Sterilizers and low quality UV Sterilizers.

Baffles, Twists


The gimmicks come into play with baffles and other ideas to slow the flow rate inside the unit. Unfortunately, these do little to help the flow and can even hinder UV light exposure (penetration) while in the unit. (This is based on my experience and measured flow results!) Coralife Turbo Twist UV Sterilizer diagram

*The Coralife Turbo Twist is a popular UV unit (as Compact UV Sterilizers go), however the purchase of this unit over another unit based on this configuration is a waste of the extra expense in my experience. While the baffles may allow for more time in the UV Sterilizer, these baffles also keep much of the water flow at a greater than desired distance from the source of the UV-C light energy for a major portion of the time the water passes through this unit (which is much greater importance for UVC dwell time.

For more information as to why it is more important: UVC dwell time.

My tested results (by using a dye) showed a very slight increase in time of water inside the unit with comparable non-baffle units. However, with tests for clarity (I dumped a measured amount of murky bacteria laden water), the Turbo Twist took a measurably longer time to clear than the non-baffle models (I used the Terminator) due to poor UV-C Penetration.

It is also noteworthy that the ballasts on the Coralife Turbo Twist are not the most durable UV due to severe ballast issues and this along with the twist/baffle feature often has me "baffled" (pardon the pun) as to why these UV Sterilizers are as popular as they are, especially when one considers that Coralife products otherwise have so-so quality reputation among many fish keepers (especially reef keepers).

Reviews for the Coralife Tubro Twist

I have achieved better UV Sterilization results with the better value Via Aqua Terminator UV Sterilizers and Custom UV Sterilizers.
Or for best results bar none, with the longer exposure time "per watt" and long term durability; the TMC Pond Advantage, Vecton UV Sterilizers for Aquariums or Ponds are second to none.

Wipers


Aqua UV with Wiper *The new Wiper models that I have seen also do a poor job of removing calcium and other buildup and again are not worth the extra $. If you have a quartz sleeve make sure and clean it with acetone when you change your bulb to truly have a clean quartz sleeve (unlike wipers which are one of the biggest gimmicks to hit UV Sterilization in recent years IMO). The rubber gasket that is pulled across the quartz sleeve simply does not remove all the deposits and sometimes leave its own “trail of debris”. These also are easily torn or broken with regular use.
Bottom line, DO NOT spend the extra money!

Other Aqua Premium UV Sterilizers


Aqua Ultraviolet UV SL 100 Series, TMC 110 Pro Pond, Aquarium Advantage This is not to knock the Aqua or similar UV Sterilizer/Clarifiers; these are excellent units with otherwise good designs. In fact their designs are industry standards for efficiency, however for less money, better yet design, and no wiper gimmicks you can have the same industry standard design in the TMC Pond Advantage/Vecton UV Sterilizers, which is recognized by many aquarium and pond keepers especially in Europe as the best for both residential and industrial/commercial use!

As well the HO UV Bulbs used by the TMC 110 are superior to the Aqua Ultraviolet UV SL 100 in that they are less expensive to replace, less fragile, and along with the UV design, allow for much more UV-C Exposure time!
Based on my years of Aquarium and Pond design and maintenance, the Aqua is one of the better UV Sterilizers, but when you factor in their extremely high price and the fact that the TMC Pro line of UV Sterilizers are much less expensive for an arguably better designed and less expensive to maintain UV, the decision of which one to purchase is a "no brainer"

Cheap Electronic Ballasts


*Other poor UV attributes are the low quality electronic ballasts that many low end companies now use that are often only good for 6 months (such as Garden Treasures, Jebo, Aqua Medic).

Pond Filter "Built-In" UV Sterilizers


*One other UV gimmick is the UV Sterilizers that come built into many pond filters including a brand I highly recommend which is the SunSun Pond Filter. However I personally only recommend the purchase these pressurized pond filters for their pond filtration abilities, NOT because these filters may also include a built-in UV Sterilizer.
The problem is that most come with UVs ranging from 5 to 18 watts, the 9 watt is being the most common, so when you install this filter to a water pump that moves 2000 gph through a 9 watt UV you are effecting a 222 gph per watt rating which is TOTALLY useless.
Sadly these Pressurized Pond Filters with built-in UV Sterilizers are growing in popularity, with many otherwise excellent companies such as Via Aqua Pro Pond, Nursery Pro, and many many others building and selling these to uninformed pond keepers!

Please read this article which has a diagram that demonstrates how to correctly connect a UV Sterilizer to your pond filtration system:
A Clear Pond, Pond Information and more

Proprietary UV Bulbs/Lamps


Also, although this is not a gimmick rather a scam IMO, and that is the use of proprietary UV-C replacement bulbs by some companies to force the UV purchaser to buy replacement bulbs from them at often triple OR MORE the cost of standard UV bulbs. Tetra is one of the biggest offenders here and should be ashamed of themselves! (Cal Pumps also has taken to this tactic with vastly more fragile G24 UV Bulbs).
A couple of resources for high output UVC bulbs/lamps: UVC Replacement Bulbs & for a reference/ guide, UV Bulb Reference Guide

Summary


FINALLY, be aware that many UV Sterilizers sold are made of very cheap material and have extremely low end electronic ballasts that have burned out in as little as 6 months (or even less) as per our own and others in the Aquarium/Pond maintenance business experience. A few of the brands I have tried, used and REJECTED are; Aqua Medic, Jebo, JBJ and Garden Treasures. Avoid these brands unless you enjoy throwing money away!

For further information about UV Sterilization, please read my full article: Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilization; How UV Sterilizers works and more

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10 Comments:

Blogger The Pond Professor said...

Do you have information on UV lamp efficiency at different operating temperatures as would be the case if a quartz tube was used or whether there is direct water impact with the UV lamp. I once had Phillips info but have lost it. Thank you
Tony
Water in the Home and Garden

2:50 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

I do not have any current data as to “UV lamp efficiency at different operating temperatures as would be the case if a quartz tube was used or whether there is direct water impact with the UV lamp”
I also used to have some of this information from Phillips as well, but did not retain this.
What I can say is that from my own experiments and tests that I not observed a more than 5 degree F difference between these tow types of units and in fact some quartz sleeve units were actually worse due to poor housing design. I have a particular unit that I have replaced several Tetra Quartz Sleeve models with in ponds and have had measurable results observed by myself and clients.
I address some of this question in this article (which has just been updated as of this reply): Ultra Violet Sterilization

Someday I will make a blog post on this subject after more facts and tests are gathered.

3:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just bought a turbo twist 9w.
The instruction pdf comes with an incomprehensible chart which uses flow rate on one axis and microwatts per cm per second as a measure on the other axis (i'm not sure if thats right but its a radiation measure of some sort). My pump (eheim 2322) flow is 350litres per hour but i can adjust flow a little prob 10%, i think this is about 90 gallons per hour. The tank is small at around 50lires. Why do the ratings say this uv unit is for this volume tank when surely the flow rate is the measure of performance???
Now you say uv wattage of the bulb is an ok measure to use. Are you sure the wattage relates closely to the radiation output? I hope so because watts of bulb is easier for me to understand!
Anyway i want to kill as much bugs as possible. I like the size and the price of replacement bulbs for the turbo twist, but now i'm wondering if i should upgrade from 9 watt to a 18 watt unit. Can anyone advise??

4:26 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

The information I have shows that the Eheim 2322 has a flow rate of 500 l/ph (132 gph) which is proper flow rate for a 9 watt Turbo Twist using watts per gph as a guide.
This is not a 100 % accurate guide, however watts are a very accurate guide as to output of UVC radiation since we are dealing with apples to apples comparisons of the low pressure UV bulbs commonly used in UV Sterilizers employed by the aquarium industry.
Other factors includes the flow design such flow pattern and volume of water between the lamp or quartz sleeve and the UV Sterilizer wall. Water Temperature is also a factor in low pressure UV Bulbs.
The Turbo Twist is an average UV Sterilizer in my experience based on factors other than wattage output (there are better and much worse units).

Back your question, your peak flow rate (at 0 head pressure, so likely your flow rate is lower) places your unit in an effective zone for UVC radiation. 20 -30 gph (75- 115 l/ph) per watt is generally effective for most UV applications, although for parasites kills, you will need to be under 10 gph (38 l/ph) per watt, which is usually not possible in most applications. At 9 watts that equals 675 l/ph for your Turbo Twist.
You can slow down water if you choose by placing your Eheim lower from your tank surface thus adding to head pressure.

For further information, please see these articles:
UV Lamps (Bulbs) and how they work
UV Sterilization

7:01 AM  
Blogger AdamHart said...

It is very necessary. There are so many different technologies. There’s multi-media filtration, distillation, reverse osmosis, and UV disinfection systems. I got my water filter systems from here...
http://www.isopurewater.com/

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Joanie Faulks said...

Well, I don't know with everyone, but these water sterilizer has been immensely helpful for me in maintaining our aquarium, making the water clean and fresh.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Eddie Gerlach said...

Carl,

I recently lost my 25W Gamma UV Sterilizer (pump died and entire unit overheated). They no longer sell this unit and am looking for a suitable replacement. I have a 220G reef with approx 40G sump. Would the Emperor Aquatics 40W UV Sterilizer coupled with a 240 GPH pump be a good solution? I have a tank full of tangs and angels, plus a green haddoni the size of a large pizza (had for years now!) and don't want to skimp on protection or piece of mind....thank you for your time!

Eddie

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the combo UV Sterilizer with Ozone. from Aqua Untraviolet.

Joe

6:22 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Aqua Ultraviolet makes a good UV, but while adding Ozone might improve sterilization abilities, it would defeat the other use of improving Redox Balance.
So I would NOT spend the extra for what I would call a gimmick

Reference:
Aquarium Redox

7:16 PM  

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