. 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

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.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

UV Sterilizer Problems & Reviews; Submersible Pond, UVC Clarifier


Potential UV Sterilizer Problems, Equipment to Avoid such as Submersible UV Sterilizers/Clarifiers

Updated 4/6/19

UV Sterilizer Problems & Reviews, Jebo, Tetra, JBJ, Garden Treasures, Sunterra, TMCThis website in general is meant to show the research as well as subjective reasons to utilize TRUE UVC Sterilization for ponds, aquariums, air purification, & surface/equipment disinfection.

This article in particular addresses the pitfalls of some equipment that can make for a “bad experience” in UV Sterilizer (or Clarifier) ownership.
This is also how incorrect anecdotal statements about ineffective UV Sterilization equipment starts too since many will purchase a poorly effective "Category C' UV Sterilizer/Clarifier via Amazon or eBay and then question the effectiveness when they should never have purchased a UV Sterilizer from either of these discounters since few if any sold via discounters are true 'Category A or B' UV Sterilizers.

Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilizer Problems, Nemo sarcasm

I will preface this article/post to state that although many of my posts on this website and elsewhere about UV Sterilization are based on good objective research from both myself and many others, this specific article/post is based on use, feedback, known scientific facts about true UV Sterilization, and observations.
I will be as objective as possible but, this post includes some subjective commentary based on my 40 + years of experience in aquarium/pond maintenance and system design.




I will start with some equipment that I do not recommend and why:

*Jebo UV Sterilizers: These Sterilizers have a couple of problems.

Problems with UV Sterilizers, aquarium or pond
First is the ballasts/transformers do not last and in fact, from my experience and others in the professional aquarium/pond maintenance business observations, they often fail in less than a year (see the ballast section).

As well, even when the transformers continue to work, Jebo often uses non industry standard UV Bulbs for their units.
An example would be the 11 watt Jebo and 36 watt which utilize a bulb that is not of standard length making it more difficult to find a replacement and when this replacement can be found, it is often more expensive due to this problem.
Worse, if you purchase a Jebo replacement UV bulb, you will be getting an inferior medium pressure UV bulb that is only 7-14% UVC emission (commonly used for nail curing), not true low pressure true UVC bulb!!!

Reference: Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

An example of a standard 36 Watt G11 UV bulb:
Standard G11 36 Watt UV Bulb

Tera Pond & Aquarium UV Sterilizer, Problems Reviews*Tetra UV: Honestly, I am not a fan of this company on so many levels of their aquatic products (& this goes back many years in the business and includes talking with others in the industry at trade shows that know Tetra and its products well).
However, their UV Sterilizers generally work well and last well too. The problem with the Tetra UVs is that as with Jebo, Tetra also is constantly utilizing non industry standard UVC Bulbs, which Tetra then charges nearly triple the normal price for replacement bulbs (but at least Tetra uses quality low pressure True UVC lamps/bulbs).

So, these Tetra bulbs, the G7 9 Watt UV Bulb and the G11 18 Watt Bulb are non standard and VERY expensive if purchased from Tetra or their distributors.
Luckily, one manufacturer is only a step behind Tetra with quality high UVC output low pressure replacement bulbs, see these links:
*9 Watt G7 Tetra UV Replacement Bulb from American Aquarium
*18 Watt G11 Tetra UV Replacement Bulb from American Aquarium

The other problem with Tetra (as with their fish foods and some other products), they have done an excellent job marketing their products so as to convince people that a 'Category B' Tetra UV Sterilizer is of top notch quality which although these are good UVs (as per my vast use of these in my aquarium and pond maintenance companies), they are far from the best (they are not even 'Category A').
HOWEVER, a Tetra UV is often twice the price of other compact UV units such as the AAP Terminator UV. While the Terminator is of equal quality for less than half the price.

More importantly, the Tetra is NOT even in the same league of UV efficiency as the 'Category A' TMC Vecton & Pond Advantage UVs, Aqua UV, or Emperor UV (in part due to much lower dwell time)!

Product References:
*AAP Terminator Compact UV Sterilizers from American Aquarium
*AAP/TMC High Dwell Time Professional UVs from American Aquarium

Please note, I have been using SunSun/Via Aqua Terminator Compact UVs since 1996 (along with many others which include the Tetra, Jebo, Turbo Twist) and had few problems; generally just a rare broken/defective part.
To this date, not one has had a defective ballast unlike many of the other compact UV Sterilizers such as the Turbo Twist

If you are determined to spend more; Why not get more for your money and purchase a true high performance, high dwell time, high output UV Sterilizer.
For the same price as a Tetra, you could get a top notch professional sterilizer such as the TMC Pond Advantage/Vecton Aquarium/Pond UV Sterilizer

*Garden Treasures: A popular discount home improvement store brand that often fails within a year and has a poor design which is often very ineffective.

*JBJ Submariner UV Sterilizer/Clarifier, Green Killing Machine, Mr. Aqua UV, More

Green Killing Machine, Oceanic, UV Sterilizer Problems ReviewsAlthough an excellent idea in theory, the Green Killing UV is a good example of what is often wrong with the aquarium/pet industry as many (including myself) thought this was a good idea in theory.
In practical use it failed (I tested several before I would sell to the general public).
However most other retailers, including some of the biggest names in internet Aquarium/Pet supplies purchased and sold these lemons without any testing which is sadly so typical of late in an industry driven by highly inaccurate Amazon and other non professional community based reviews which do NOT utilize in science based controlled testing by professionals.
Many retailers though, such as PetStore.Com have since discontinued this UV Sterilizer.
Unfortunately the problem has grown with many branding basically the same cheap Chinese design such as the Mr Aqua UV and selling it as their own!!

The problem was not that these UVs did not work, because they did for free floating algae as a Category C UV clarifier only, BUT NOT level 1 or 2 UV Sterilization (provided by Category A & B UV Sterilizers), which is what many unknowingly purchase these for.
As well these UVs only functioned for a short time (about 6-9 months), then the seals failed and they shorted out (this too is a major problem with the Submariner, which sadly still sells in considerable volume).

On an unprofessional note as per the Green Killing UV, a company representative spammed a YouTube video I made about UV Sterilizer installation many years back.
This comment was about their product and when I noted (in a reply comment) that I disagreed with this product based on use, they phoned me with the nastiest (including personal attacks), and most naïve comments I could ever fathom.
Keep in mind that I did not seek them out, they sought me out!!
In my view, this is not a company I could ever recommend giving business to if only for their attitude.
Sadly irresponsible companies such as Petco, PetsMart, and Amazon continue to sell this UV clarifier (NOT a Sterilizer).

Another problem with poor quality sterilizers with built in water pumps is flow rate.
This can be seen in the smaller Killing Machine/Submariners (5 watt and to a lesser extent the 9 watt).
This flow rate is too high for proper UV sterilization, which is best under 25 gallons per hour per watt (clearing green algae only requires 45 gph per watt, which is why these work for green water, but not so well for bacterial pathogen control or Redox Balance).
Sadly many persons purchase the Green Killing Machine or Submariner expecting UVC Level 1 Sterilization, and these units simply do NOT perform this.
So at best, these are JUST water clarification tools for as long as they last.

What really blows my mind is the "good" reviews posted on forums, etc that do not reflect anything about their durability or the fact these cannot perform level 1 sterilization.
So, unsuspecting buyers read these very unscientific reviews then make a purchase. I know this happens from emails and my aquarium maintenance colleagues that report these failures or complain they are not seeing any Redox or sterilization results.
The unfortunate result here (again based on emails, etc.) is these people that buy these sterilizers, then become convinced that UV Sterilization is a gimmick further fanning the MYTH that UV Sterilizers are useless for anything other than water clarification!!!

Reference this article about the similar Submariner Submersible UV and the TERRIBLE and factually inaccurate information given in an unprofessional review:
Submariner Internal UV Sterilizer Review, such as Kokos Goldfish; Reviews Part 1

Better would be to use together a proven yet economical Terminator UV Sterilizer (or TMC Vecton for a premium High Dwell Time UV) with a Internal Filter/power head combination or purchase a UV/Filter Kit that includes both.
Product References:
*TMC Vecton High Level UVC Sterilizers
*Terminator UV Filter, Pump Kits; Superior Compact Sterilizers

If you prefer the simplicity of a self contained internal/submersible UV Sterilizer, the SunSun Submersible UV Pump/Filter would be a better choice over the Green Killing Machine or Submariner.
HOWEVER, even these Internal/Submersible UV Sterilizers cannot match the Sterilization capabilities of a stand alone UV Sterilizer such as the Terminator or especially a high performance model such as the TMC Advantage or Vecton.
Product Reference:
SunSun Submersible UV Pump/Filter

Also, beware of the cheaper models by SunSun, often marketed under the AquaTop and Oceanic labels, generally selling for less than $50.
These are NO better than the Submariner or Killing Machine as per true UV Sterilization or longevity!!

PLEASE also read this review/article:
Internal, Submersible UV Sterilizer Filter, Pump; Review/p>

*Submersible Inline Pond UV; Pondmaster, and Others

Pond In Line UV Sterilizer, ClarifierThese UV Sterilizers are designed to go inline, originally in pond and more recently aquarium versions have been added.
This style UV Sterilizer/Clarifier goes inline (between the pump and water outlet) under your aquarium or pond water.
These UV Sterilizers have found appeal because of their lower price due to simplicity and to the generally easy installation.

However. these positive selling attributes are also their downfall as for reliable UV Sterilizer abilities.
The aquarium versions are very low tech with poor dwell time. This simple construction often result in leaks that destroy the electrical components in as little as 6 months. The result being Level One Sterilization is NOT achieved and a UV Sterilizer is worthless for any type of Sterilization.

As for the PondMaster Submersible; when functioning this Pond UV Sterilizer generally does a good job for green water control.
Unfortunately, this UV also has seals that fail resulting in electrical shorts due to moisture. Our pond service and related professional contacts also reported premature ballast failures (often within months) resulting in "blown" bulbs when a new replacement UV-C Bulb/light is replaced.
Sometimes when the replacement bulb blows the filament, a thorough cleaning of electrical of any possible moisture can get this UV Sterilizer up and running again. The down side is this can be a matter of trial and error when replacing UV-C Bulbs that cost over $42.

While the Pondmaster 40 watt and 20 watt might perform a reasonable job; when compared to the vastly higher dwell time TMC Pond Advantage UVs; the 40 watt Pond Master is outperformed by the 30 Watt Pond Advantage Pro and the 20 Watt Pond Master is outperformed by the 15 Watt Pond Advantage.
So, my point is, with the cost of a new replacement lamp, AND new ballast, it makes much more sense to spend nearly the same amount of money and step UP to the TMC Pond Advantage UV Sterilizer!!

Please Reference these Information and Product Resources(the first is a MUST READ for any serious aquarium/pond keeper):
*UV Sterilization Facts & Information
*Dwell Time Test Between UV Sterilizers

*Pondmaster UV Replacement Bulbs
*30 Watt Pond Advantage Pro
*15 Watt Pond Advantage
*Select UV Sterilizer Ballasts

Another issue is some manufacturers of the in-line UV Sterilizer (primarily marketed for ponds) utilize UV Bulbs/Lamps of 5 or 10 watts which is only adequate for the smallest of ponds (under 100-200 gallons) not at all for most of the ponds often sold for.

For pond or aquarium use, stay away from these submersible line in UV Sterilizers, consider a heavy duty high dwell time UV Sterilizer such as the proven long life TMC Aquarium Vecton & Pond Advantage UV Sterilizer, Aqua Ultraviolet, or Emperor UVs.

*Cal Pumps UV

Cal Pump UV36 36 Watt Pond UV Sterilizer with Spiral UVC Bulb, Problems & Reviews Cal Pumps (2007 and newer) has gone the proprietary route similar to Tetra with new G24 base UV Bulbs.
Luckily other sources for the Cal Pump 18 Watt G24 Bulb now exist.
As well, there are now outside sources for the 36 Watt Cal Pump Spiral UV Bulb.

Product References:
*Spiral 36 Watt G24 UV Replacement Bulb from American Aquarium
*U Shape 18 Watt G24 UV Replacement Bulb from American Aquarium

However, regardless of replacement bulb availability this Cal Pump spiral UV bulb/lamp has minor restrike issues and worse has terrible UV-C exposure time based on its overly compact spiral design.

As per our maintenance companies results as well as our own "in-house" statistics, the Cal Pump also has a higher than normal ballast failure rate, with new hot cathode UV bulbs failing in relatively new units (the old lamp may still work, but due to loss of ability of the ballast to provide needed surge voltage, the new hot cathode UV-C Bulbs will not fire).
*Please reference this article to help troubleshoot your electrical components:
UV Sterilizer Bulb Troubleshooting

The Cal Pump 36 Watt Pond UV Sterilizer with the spiral bulb which has VERY LOW dwell time and higher than normal ballast failure, is a UV device that really has me scratching my head as to why people even purchase this when there are better compact UV sterilizers available. Such as the "SunSun Terminator 36 Watt" Compact UVs or better yet the standard UV TMC "Pond Advantage Premium UV Sterilizer".
At 25 watts, the TMC Pond Advantage has a vastly better flow, dwell time, and exposure design which would well outperform the higher wattage Cal Pump spiral 36 watt UV (along with much higher durability too)!!


I will just give a quick overview in this section, since I have expanded information in other articles dealing with much of this.

*Too high a flow rate for wattage of UVC: Although an over simplification, more goes into UVC versus flow rate than pure wattage such as the design of the unit should only allow a gap of .3 cm between the UVC light bulb, quartz sleeve,and the UV unit wall.
As a simple generalization (depending upon dwell time), 20-35 gph (gallons per hour) per watt should be used for most sterilization applications and 40-65 gph per watt for pond green water/algae control.

*UVC Transmittance: This is the measured value of the difference between a known UVC light source and what is measured by a calibrated detector through a 1 cm thick sample of the water to be irradiated/treated.
Water turbidity (dissolved waste particulates, DOC, etc.) in the water column have a profound affect on this.
I will likely write a specific article/post on the controversial subject of pre-filtration which can have a generally positive affect on UVC Transmittance.

*Failure to Change the UV Bulb on a Regular Schedule: This is a common problem which often leads to an ineffective UV Sterilizer. Your UV Bulb should be changed every six months for optimum performance in aquariums and 6-12 months for ponds (6 months in warm climate ponds).
As well, the UV Sterilizer bulbs should be checked during regular aquarium maintenance just to make sure they are "on" in the first place and that the bulb or unit has not failed.
I have had UV Sterilizers and/or the bulbs fail prematurely and not notice (due to not including this check in weekly maintenance) until more obvious aquarium conditions presented themselves.
In one example, the aquarium plants looked more thin/dirty, water clarity was less then perfect, and the DOC and Detritus increased considerably in the aquarium. Upon checking, UV bulb which was well over due for a change had failed

*Weak or Poor Quality Ballasts;

Generally electronic ballasts do not last as long as those that use separate starters (such as many TMC UV Sterilizers), but electronic ballasts still have positive attributes.
Not all electronic ballasts are created equal.

As already noted many brands such as the Jebo have poor quality ballasts that often last less than a year (from my Aquarium Maintenance Company's experience).
I have also observed poor ballasts with certain models of the Hagen Laguna Pond UV Sterilizers such as the 25 Watt model in particular, as well as other Laguna models that often quickly lose their initial UV lamp "firing" ability due to loss of ESSENTIAL voltage surge needed to fire a TRUE Hot Cathode bulb. Replacing your UV bulb with an easy start cold cathode UV bulb is NOT the answer to this problem!
See also this article:
Hot Cathode vs. Cold Cathode UV Bulb; Are Long Life, Easy Start UV Bulbs worth purchasing

  • Often symptoms are either these weak/defective/old electronic ballasts are they cannot fire a high output UV Bulb or they "blow" a high output UV bulb due to spikes or constant surges in energy, showing significant black discoloration at the base of the bulb.

    See this article for some ballast diagnostic tips:
    UV Lamp/Bulb Ballast Troubleshooting

    As well, this video has tips to select the correct UV Bulb and why some are better than others, please give the video below a full viewing:

    UV Bulb Review and Troubleshooting Video


    Sadly, this problem often does not show itself with old used bulbs or new inferior low output cold cathode UV lamps sold for these units.
    See: Long Life Cold Cathode UV bulbs, are these worth purchasing?
    The bottom line is, from my experience as well as others in the professional maintenance business, is the very poor quality ballast used by Laguna & Jebo.

  • The Sunterra UV Sterilizer (which is a "knock off" of the Garden Treasures) is another UV Sterilizer to avoid. Our friends in the maintenance business and elsewhere reporting ballast failures in as early as a few weeks.
    If you have one of these poor quality Sunterra UVs and its ballast fails, you are much better off simply replacing it with a new UV of better quality such as the TMC Pond Advantage or Vecton line.

  • Even the QUESTIONABLY popular Coralife Turbo-Twist tend to wear out their ballast circuitry in short order resulting in new "high output UV Lamps" not being able to fire.
    As per our sister aquarium/pond maintenance which operate dozens of Turbo Twist UVs in the 9 watt and 18 watt size (primarily the 9 watt), the Turbo Twist has a 100% failure rate within a few years that results in new UVC Bulbs failing to light or blowing existing UVC Bulbs.

    In fact based on our data (accumulated from 100s of UV Bulb uses), the Coralife 18 Watt Turbo Twist has among the highest ballast failures on any 18 Watt UV Sterilizer other than the Sunterra 18 Watt UV Sterilizer, so if you have either one of these UV Sterilizers burning out UV Bulbs prematurely, very high odds that the problem is with your UV Sterilizer ballast, not the UV-C Bulb (unless you revert to an inefficient cold cathode bulb)!

    See Turbo Twist Review for more about the Turbo Twist.
    The Bottom line is the Turbo Twist is a UV Sterilizer to avoid, despite the anecdotal advice to purchase these in many misinformed forums or Yahoo Answers!!!

    Also any electronic ballast is "doomed" to fail at some point (usually even the best of electronic ballasts last only 5-8 years), and a multi-meter can test for this. For example you should check your voltage and resistance using this equipment.

  • It is noteworthy that a new UV Replacement Lamp/Bulb will not start on a weak or failed ballast, especially high intensity UV Bulbs when often a used or low quality/low intensity bulb will still fire, this due to the inability to provide the proper high surge voltage to fire an high efficiency UV bulb!!

    Also, when a UV Sterilizer ballast fails or partly fails, it can be too weak to light the UV Sterilizer and can also fail to control the current and become too strong and allow a surge of electricity that blows the UV Bulb/Lamp making this lamp useless for further use.
    This is especially common with many Pond UVs that have poorly protected ballasts such as the certain Laguna models and Pondmaster submersible.

    Further Reference:
    Electronic UV Sterilizer Ballasts; Lamp Problems

    Premium High Dwell Time Pond or Aquarium UV, Problems ReviewIN SUMMARY, and while this may seem like a sales push, I ONLY use for my clients what works best (which in the long term creates less hassles for me); IF you have ANY OF THE ABOVE UV STERILIZERS; especially the extremely problematic Jebo, Turbo Twist, Pondmaster Submersible, & Sunterra; I would strongly recommend replacing you Ultraviolet Sterilizer with one that is known Internationally for their quality and high efficiency; the TMC Vecton or Advantage Premium, High Dwell Time UV Sterilizers!

    See: TMC Vecton & Advantage UV Sterilizers

Finally, the low output cold cathode UV bulbs supplied by some of these before mentioned UV Sterilizers may work when a high output hot cathode bulb does not work.
HOWEVER these are of much lower UV efficiency and therefore provide NO level 1 UV Sterilization.
Continuing to use one of these low efficiency UV Bulbs when a hot cathode UV bulb no longer works simply defeats the purpose of having a UV Sterilizer in the first place!!!

Much more information about these last three points (& more) can be found in this article:

Aquarium/Pond UV Sterilizer Use; Facts & Information


*Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Diagrams

*UV Replacement Bulb Guide, resources/p>

For an informative and friendly Aquarium Forum with a family atmosphere, consider this forum:
*Everything Aquatic Aquarium Forum

By Steven Wright


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,