. Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilizer, Clarifier Reviews; Problems

UV Sterilizer Reviews; Information Articles, Ideas, Comments, and Links to even more Resources about how UVC Sterilization works in Aquariums/ Ponds

aquarium and pond UV posts, information, articles, resources, blogs

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

9 Watt UV Bulb; Aquarium & Pond Germicidal, Review


Updated 12-25-18

What's in a UVC Replacement Bulb?

If you have followed this blog/website for some time, you would know that ONLY a 254 nm HOT CATHODE LOW PRESSURE UV Bulb should EVER be used in your Aquarium UV Sterilizer, Pond UV Sterilizer/Clarifier, or Air UVC Purifier.

*Hot Cathode vs. Cold Cathode UV Bulb; Are these worth purchasing?
*Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

This is not to say that these higher output high quality UV Bulbs/Lamps are not easy to find, as they can be found. But not for prices much under $14-$15 and certainly not for $5.99 as some eBay sellers such as "Discount Aquatic" who have used ("copy & pasted") without permission information from premium UV bulb seller AAPs web page that implies their UV bulb is the same! BEWARE, a close observation shows the UV lamp/bulb these and other sellers is NOT THE SAME! Why spend the money on a UV Sterilizer only to put in a $5.99 blue light bulb??

Several manufacturers such as American Aquarium, Purely, & Phillips all sell ONLY hot cathode, low pressure 254 nm UV Bulbs that are also include the patented heat reducing technology or Norman lamps high efficiency, low heat/HO technology.

Supplier of these bulbs: American Aquarium Products; UV Bulbs

Please Read the full article to understand the difference between many of the 9 Watt UV Replacement Bulbs sold

Unfortunately though, MANY if not most of the low cost UV Bulbs sold on eBay (such as the Jebao Brand commonly sold on eBay), Amazon (under the brand 'AnyRay'), Nextag under brand names such as Ocious are NOT these same low pressure, hot cathode UV Bulbs intended for level one UVC Sterilization in pond or aquarium applications, RATHER these are medium pressure UV lamps INTENDED AS NAIL CURING LAMPS with a UV efficiency of only 7%!!
I am not necessarily accusing these sellers of fraud, rather most of these sellers find a source for the 'nail curing UV bulbs' and outwardly these look almost the same, but for a lower cost, so they see an opportunity to get a UV bulb for a lower price that they can in turn market at a lower price. Unfortunately most of these sellers would not know the difference between a low pressure UV bulb and a medium pressure UV bulb (again the later is only generally intended as a nail curing UV bulb).

See References:
UV Lamps, Bulb; How they work
Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

Actual UV Output in Lamps purchased from Amazon

Quite bluntly these medium pressure nail curing 9 watt UV bulbs at 7% germicidal UVC irradiation simply CANNOT destroy the bacteria or maintain aquatic Redox at any useful/normal flow rate when compared to the high UVC output hot cathode UV-C Bulbs!
A source for these bulbs:
True Level One, Low Pressure UV Bulbs for Aquarium or Pond Use

Now to the title of this article/review;
Those purchasing a replacement 9 Watt UV Bulb will find this UV lamp to be one of the most common UV Bulbs sold incorrectly as replacements when in fact many are not for aquarium, pond, purifier use, despite advertising to the contrary!

Many of these are simply are NOT going to do the job.
These cheap 9 Watt UV Bulbs (often sold for under $10) are only useful for nail curing or similar, NOT to attempt to maintain Level 1 Sterilization in your important Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilizer!

Please Reference: Aquarium/Pond UV Sterilization
A source for good to premium UV Sterilizers: UV Sterilizer!!

What is also noteworthy, although often difficult to find, is some 9 Watt G23UV Replacement Bulbs use patented methods to lower operating temperature which increases the efficiency and UVC output.
Such as:
  • Patented Heat Reducing Technology
  • Norman lamps super high efficiency HO/low heat UV Bulbs.

Put in simple terms this makes for:
  • Lower operating temperatures which in turn increases energy directed as UVC (which is why you have a UV light in the first place). This 5° C difference increases efficiency about 5% or more, adding to the 75% improvement of these low pressure UV lamps over common lower cost medium pressure UV lamps/bulbs sold at online discounters and home improvement warehouses.
  • Longer Life and higher output over the life of the lamp.
  • Easier starts, which new hot cathode UV lamps are often difficult to start initially.

Now look and see if your bargain Amazon, eBay, etc. UV Bulb has this heat reducing technology;
Likely not!

THE FACTS ARE; the direct wholesale cost in volume purchasing is more than $10 for TRUE Low Pressure, Hot Cathode UVC Replacement Bulb/Lamp, so how is some Vendor going to sell these for much under $14 and pay the eBay seller fees, Amazon Fees, etc. (often offering shipping at below actual cost too), and still make a profit??
Of course the simple answer, which is not rocket science, is THEY CANNOT! This is why it is impossible to get a CORRECT TRUE Low Pressure, Hot Cathode UVC Replacement Bulb/Lamp at the prices offered on many of these websites that advertise on Google, etc.


9 Watt UV-C Bulb Comparison, eBay, Jebao, etc versus quality lamp

Another UV bulb that commonly comes up in search and is sold as less expensive alternative is the 18 Watt UV bulb/Lamp which it too is often a low output medium pressure UV Bulb with less than 7% UVC output.
This is another instance one should be careful of picking the first UV Bulb that comes up in Google search and instead choose a true low pressure hot cathode.
See my article/review for this bulb here: 18 Watt UV Bulb Review
Or to purchase a true 18 watt uvc bulb; True level one UVC capable 18 Watt UV Bulb

Simply put do NOT let Google, Bing, Yahoo guide you to one of these many websites selling these mostly useless UV Bulbs that produce little UVC necessary for an effective UV Sterilizer or Purifier.
Spend a little more and purchase a American Aquarium, Purely, or Phillips 9 Watt Bulb, which often still only sell for $14 to $25 online.

American Aquarium Products hot cathode 9 Watt is sold near cost as a promotional item and is THE true hot cathode, low pressure 9 Watt UV Bulb to purchase for both quality & price!!
See: 9 Watt UV Bulb

Please also read this article:
UV Lamps, Bulbs; How they work, Coatings, more

The bottom line is while you can certainly get a good deal for a good UV-C lamp/bulb, the old axiom still applies "THAT YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR"!!

Finally, if you are having issues with your UV Bulb or Ballast or you would like some more information to understand why most 9 Watt UV Bulbs now sold are sub par, PLEASE give the video below a full viewing:

UV Bulb Review, Troubleshooting Video

Please reference this unique, in depth, & researched article that is IMPERATIVE READING for anyone interested in moving from basic aquarium or pond keeping to more advanced aquarium or pond keeping:

UV-C Sterilization Use; Beginner to Advanced

If you are looking for the optimum, MOST EFFICIENT LED lighting for your aquarium, look no further than the 5 year warranted AAP AquaRay line of LED lights (beware of a parasite retailer selling out of their home that Google's poor search algorithm brings up), please follow this link if you want the genuine AAP AquaRay:
AquaRay LED Lighting

By Steven Wright with input from Carl Strohmeyer-PAMR

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Internal, Submersible UV Sterilizer Filter, Pump; Review (for Aquarium or Pond)


Part 1; Submersible UV Sterilizer Filter/Pump Combinations
Part 2; These UV Filters Should be Avoided!

Internal (Submersible) UV Sterilizer Filter/Pump Combinations
Including the newer & better designed 3rd generation AAP Internal/Submersible CUP-613 13 Watt & CUP-609 9 Watt UV Pump/Filters

Submersible Internal Sterilizer Review

Updated 5-21-20

This article/post is a partner to another article where one section discussed issues with submersible UV Filters, pump. This article will expand on this type of UV Sterilizer explaining both positives and negatives and proper use.

Please read this previous related article for more background and understanding:
Potential UV Sterilizer Problems, Equipment to Avoid


The first generation Internal UV Filter/Pumps created a lot of excitement, at least among many aquarium maintenance professionals I knew/know. However as these were purchased and then utilized in aquariums or ponds, their short comings became apparent.

In particular the problem of leakage causing electrical shorts and often destroying the UV.
This problem was even more prevalent with the Green Killing Machine and their rather bizarre and VERY rude, condescending, & un-professional phone call to an aquarium professional friend about his reply to a comment THEY posted on HIS YouTube UV Sterilizer video tells me this is NOT a company I could recommend -EVER.

The Submariner and other similar versions sold on Amazon.com and elsewhere are a slight improvement, however this UV clarifier is still not all that well designed in both water flow rate & pattern, as well as lack of proper pre-filtration for water turbidity and the use of low quality medium pressure UV Bulbs resulting ONLY in clarification abilities, not level 1 sterilization.
As too with the Killing Machine which it too cannot perform level one sterilization, only clarification (& even then clarification is not as efficiently achieved as would be with a level one or two capable TRUE UV Sterilizer).

See this article comparing output of low medium pressure versus low pressure UV Bulbs:
Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Low versus Medium pressure lamps

Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilizer Problems, Nemo sarcasm

As well, the sealing of the UV Bulb & Quartz Sleeve is still an issue, resulting in short lives of 6-18 months for many of these units.

AAP Submersible Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilizer Filter, Pump ReviewAlthough still inferior to out of the water, high dwell time UV Sterilizers (such as the highest dwell time of ANY UV; TMC Vecton or Advantage or even compact UVs with reasonable dwell time, such as the Terminator); the Unique AAP CUP Internal UV with pre-filter, flow adjustment, and low pressure UV Bulb appears to have finally gotten this great idea reasonably correct!

The plus side to these submersible UV Pump/Filters is the need for no additional plumbing in aquariums or ponds, not that splicing a line for a TMC or Terminator UV is all that difficult (with ponds though, extra devices such as UVs can sometimes be a bit more of a plumbing project).

However the another entry into the field of Internal UVs are still incorrect as per their flow rate (& construction); The AquaTop UV Sterilizer Pump 3, 5, 7, & 9 watt are actually no better than the Submariner or similar early generation Internal UVs (please read more about these later in the article).

Back to the AAP Model:,
First the Proprietary Heavy duty 13 watt UV Pump/Filter design with double O Rings seems to have solved the leakage/UVC short problem for the most part, and the flow pattern/design is also improved over earlier Submariner and similar models.

One negative is "rated" flow rate, however as per our tests this "rated" flow rate is not the actual flow rate; the actual/adjusted flow for certain proprietary units by AAP is much better for level one UV Sterilization.
The propeller design of the impeller has little head pressure which actually is better for maintaining a flow rate of 25 gph per watt in the vertical configuration.
However, the flow rate is not good enough for circulation of very large aquariums or ponds, so for this reason other circulation pumps should be utilized so and I advice to not depend upon these UV Pumps as the primary mode of circulation.

The AAP 13 Watt CUP-613 Pump/Filter Model performed well in initial tests, however the AAP 9 Watt UV CUP-609 Pump/Filter Model uses the same 528 gallons per hour manufacturer rated water pump as the 13 watt model which is generally too high for level 1 UV Sterilization.
HOWEVER later tests following adjustments made by AAP of this UV Sterilizer in configuration showed only a 160 gph flow rate in an aquarium in the vertical configuration which is appropriate for level 1 sterilization (9 times 25 = 225 gph or less).
Please note that these "correct flow rate" models are NOT sold on eBay, Amazon, etc., only by professional sellers such as AAP.

Recommended Product Resource:
AAP CUP Internal Filters; 13 WWatt

Reference: Levels of Sterilization

BE AWARE, that SunSun is a company that makes probably more models of aquarium & pond equipment to various specifications, probably more so than any such aquarium/pond supply manufacturer in the world.
As well, many are simply re-labeled with no changes and marketed as something they are not (Example Deep Blue)

Also since many persons in the USA & Canada have the perception that all Chinese made products are junk, let me correct this somewhat.

As an example, when a retailer or distributor approaches a typical North American or European manufacturer for a certain product and offers a certain price point that is below what the manufacturer offers the product for, if the manufacturer agrees to the terms, they will get the same product off their production line for this lower price.

HOWEVER with these Chinese manufacturers, INCLUDING SunSun, if someone such as Amazon.com sellers offer a lower price point, SunSun (& others in China) will agree, BUT BUILD IT TO THIS PRICE POINT.
ALL products are built to order, not sold out of inventory for the price paid!!

This means that these companies, especially Amazon.com are successful because they sell products are low prices, that also cost them less too (better profits).

With the SunSun CUP series, most of those sold at discounted prices are missing these parts:

  • The important pre-filter sponge to lower water turbidity
  • These have not been corrected for flow rate to what is needed for level one UV Sterilization
  • Many are are sold with lower cost, but lower output medium pressure UV bulbs (basically "nail curing" UV bulbs commonly sold on eBay, Amazon, etc as low cost alternative to true level one capable low pressure UVC lamps/bulbs).
    See this article for more:
    Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Low versus Medium pressure lamps


If used in a pond, I STRONGLY suggest "nesting" your SunSun Internal UV Pump/Filter under .5" to 1.5" rock (volcanic rock works best) so as to act as a pre-filter and block larger debris from entering your UV Filter. If not done, I can almost guarantee you will not be happy with your Pond UV Clarifier!

Where to get: volcanic rock

Submersible UV Filter & Pump, Pond Application, ReviewOne of the positives of these new generation SunSun CUP Submersible UV Pump/Filters is the simplicity of installation, which in a pond that is already set-up, is a major plus.
Since the SunSun CUP-13 can work in a pond up to 1500 gallons (assuming otherwise reasonably good filtration), a pond owner with say a 2500 gallon pond can utilize two of these UV Pumps to help maintain a clear pond where the fish can actually be seen.
The picture demonstrates placement as far apart as possible and the use of volcanic rock or similar to provide better pre-filtration to prevent pre-mature clogging and failure of your UV. (click on to enlarge)
For yet larger ponds, multiples of this innovative UV Sterilizer pump can be utilized.

While speaking about pond UV use, it is always still best to use an "in-line" UV Sterilizer, and if you are seeking the best of the best, especially for large ponds (or aquariums systems), NOTHING beats the AAP/TMC line of UV Sterilizers. The two premier UVs in this line for Ponds are the PRO Pond 30 and 110 watt.
Please view the video below for more:

Aqua UV versus TMC UV Sterilizer
VIDEO: Aqua Pond UV vs TMC AAP Pond UV Clarifier Sterilizer

A comparison of the two top large pond/aquarium-system UV Sterilizers and why the AAP/TMC comes out as the best when price and dwell time is considered

A few Problems with the new SunSun & Similar Internal UV Sterilizer:

  • While the SunSun and related exact same models sold under different brand names have improved in this area over the Submariner, PH-8/UV-3 3 watt and more; these are still below the level of sterilization when compared to either quality compact UVs or especially the Premium High Dwell Time UVs (such as the before mentioned Vecton & Advantage).

  • As well the SunSun and exact same models sold under different brand names have improved on the design that prevents electrical shorts, HOWEVER from feedback from my network of aquarium professionals, these still are not as durable as MOST out of water UV Sterilizers.
    This said, these are still of a better design as per durability than the earlier generation submersible Internal UV Pump/Filters as well as the plethora in-line submersible UVs such as the basic model Aqua Top, Submariner, and others.

    My suggestions/recommendation for the 13 Watt or 9 Watt UV Pump/Filter is this is an reasonably well designed device for water clarification or basic level 1 Sterilization for small ponds or small to medium aquariums, especially for those desiring a simple UV application without the availability of a canister filter or similar to power a standard UV Sterilizer.

    TMC Vecton UV Sterilizer for Aquarium, ReviewHOWEVER for those needing top notch level 1 sterilization and most certainly level 2 sterilization, this new device is not for you (especially in demanding environments or larger ponds/aquariums).

    For these applications consider the excellent but economical Terminator UV Sterilizer or for top notch professional applications, the AAP/TMC Advantage or Vecton UV Sterilizers.

    Also consider where you purchase your new Internal UV Sterilizer Pump (as noted earlier these are sold under many brand names, but made in the same factory), as most retailers selling these have no knowledge of UV Sterilization and will tell you what you want to hear/read and also supply no customer service or product knowledge of use..

These UV Filters Below Should be Avoided!

Unfortunately the vast majority of Inline, Internal, etc UV Sterilizers such as the "Killing Machine" are not sterilizers at all, only clarifiers.

Review of Oceanic Biocube Mini Ultraviolet Sterilizer In tank Aquarium UV Pump, Not Recommended Example: Oceanic Biocube Mini Ultraviolet Sterilizer, 5-Watt;
This is basically a Green Killing Machine.

As with the Green Killing Machine, this is excellent for green water clarification. However a short life and expensive upkeep including the replacement UV Bulb since the entire bulb & ballast must be replaced (this IMO is to deal with the leakage issues that otherwise damage the ballast).

Green Killing Machine Review, UV Clarifier, not Sterilizer, low quality As it turns out, this so-called "deal" for these UV Clarifiers is not so much of a deal when you go to replace the lamp/ballast @ $26.99 for the 9W or $39.99 for the 24W, not to mention these are NOT capable of true UV Sterilization which SHOULD BE the reason for purchase of such a product as often a cloudy or green aquarium is an indicator of poor maintenance such as too-high bio load, over feeding, poor filtration, etc.

In the end, as with most submersible/in-tank UVs, these are ONLY a clarifier and not capable of level one UV Sterilization or higher. So combine this with expensive upkeep and only clarification abilities, this UV in the end is not the deal it may seem to be.

Review of AquaTop Inline Aquarium UV Pump, Not RecommendedReview of AquaTop, SunSun Aquarium UV Pump, Not Recommended

As another example, SunSun Basic, JUP-01, JUP-23 13W and the AquaTop PH-8/UV-3, 5, 7, & 9 watt Inline UV Sterilizers are not of the more robust filter and UV flow design as the larger SunSun CUP-613 & CUP-609, rather these are simply knock offs of the "cheesie" internal UV flow and over all design of the earlier Internal UV pumps (& sadly still sold by Amazon and many others).

JUP-23 13W UV Sterilizer sold at AmazonAlso many of these internal/submersible UVs sold at Amazon and elsewhere do not come with a pre-filter sponge and thus the water turbidity inside the UV sterilization chamber is too high for the UVC to truly be effective.
Reference: UV Transmittance; Other Factors Affecting UV Sterilization Pre-Filtration/ Turbidity

The low prices of these as well as the Submariner, etc. reflect their ability to only clarify, not sterilizer.

As an example, the cheesie UV-3 watt marketed for undergravel filters runs at 158 gph with a 3 watt UV bulb; HOWEVER as per correct Level One UV Sterilization, this would require a flow of UNDER 75 gph to be effective!! (Dwell time is another considerations where these designs fall well shot of anything other than clarification).

Deep Blue Clarity+ Submersible UVAnother newer entry with great marketing is the Deep Blue Clarity+ Submersible UVs.
These advertise "Long-lasting, high performance ultraviolet lamp (typical 9,000 hrs)", however a HO low pressure UV lamp has a useful life of about half this, so this is suspect as to the output. Typically the long life medium pressure UV lamps have 1/4 the UVC output.

Reference: Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Low versus Medium pressure lamps

As well the claim is "optimized circulation pump included" yet the flow is not advertised, as the dwell time is quite questionable. These also do not have true "pre-filtration" which is important for any UV function as noted earlier in this article.
In the end, this too is primarily just a UV Clarifier, which is fine if that is all you are purchasing this product for, not level one sterilization.

If Clarification is all you need, not true level one sterilization or greater for Redox balance, disease control, and fish immunity issues, these above noted filters might be a good choice since these are well under $50 (with the exception of the Deep Blue), but again if you do your research and need true UV Sterilization, you will need to go with a true UV Sterilizer such as the good AAP Terminators or the top notch premium AAP/TMC Vecton/Advantage UV Sterilizers, Aqua Ultraviolet, or Emperor UV.

These along with the earlier previously mentioned JBJ Submariner, Killing Machines, etc. UV Pumps SHOULD BE AVOIDED!


As final note, as with any UV Sterilizer, changing the UV Bulb every six months is important for optimum operation (a must for level 1 sterilization).

Where to find UV Replacement Bulb

For the most accurate and up to date information about the use of UV Sterilizers in a pond or aquarium, this article is a MUST READ:

UVC Sterilization Information

Authored By Steven W.

Comments are welcome, however the author’s busy schedules preclude the ability to have discussions or answers questions on subjects covered here at “Aquarium/Pond UV Sterilizer Reviews”, these are best taken to forums such as Everything Aquatic.
Comments attacking the authors rather than the subject matter with “straw man”, ad hominem statements will be immediately marked as spam so that future posts by such individuals here or elsewhere in the blogosphere will be recognized as such.

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