. 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

Turbo Twist, LifeGuard UV Sterilizer Review


Updated 6/22/2023

Coralife TurboTwist 3xThe Coralife TurboTwist 3x, 6x, & 12x are very popular compact UV Sterilizer for aquarium or pond use.

Initial results using the Turbo Twist are comparable to other compact UVs that utilize HO UVC lamps (which most no longer utilizer HO lamps), and are usually good from my experience as well as other aquarium maintenance professionals I know.

However is is important to note that NO compact UV whether the 'Category B' TurboTwist, the slightly better AAP/SunSun Terminator or Tetra, or the lessor 'Category C' Jebo can compare to a high dwell time straight tube UV such as the AAP/TMC Vecton UV (or especially the newer Vecton Titan UV Sterilizer), as well as the 'Category A' Aqua Ultraviolet or Emperor.
The Turbo Twist is simply not even in the same league and to be compared with a Category A UV, in particular the industry leading Vecton Titan is absurd.
Yet even search engines, especially Bing's terrible AI Chat Bot search, continues to make this mistake since many searches utilize social media rather than authoritative, experience based websites such as this one!!

While the Turbo Twist does employ HO UVC lamps as does the now unfortunately discontinued AAP Terminator, unlike the Jebo and other even lower quality Compact UV Sterilizers, but this is still not enough to make up for the poor dwell time compared to better level 1 & 2 capable 'Category A' UVs such as the Vecton (which also employ HO UVC lamps).

For more about UV Sterilizer Categories, please read this article:
Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Use; What is a Quality UV

While often promoted and given reasonably good marks in websites such as Amazon, long term and actual results are not as good as often inaccurately stated in these NON professional reviews displayed on Amazon which are generally based on initial use and clarification only (which is all a 'Category C' UV which have now flooded the market are), NOT level one sterilization or higher!!

One problem that is rarely noted in these Amazon reviews is the fact one of the selling points is also more of a gimmick and that is the baffles.
These Baffles do NOT maintain a consistent/effective distance from the UV lamp/Quartz Sleeve at all times. As well these baffles can trap air which then impedes the optimum flow and sterilization time of these UV Sterilizers.
Sometimes repositioning the Turbo Twist can help with air trapped, but often you simply need to accept this trapped air and lower your flow rate to 20 gph per watt or less just to maintain level 1 sterilization.
Unfortunately many unprofessional YouTube videos further the urban myth of the effectiveness of these baffles, then poor search engines pick up these myths and treat them like facts, resulting in these myths growing even more like a cancer.
Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PqPVMrO97k

The other unfortunate problem of the myth of the Turbo Twist being anything other than a most basic UV Clarifier, is that while many will rave about how the Turbo Twist UV initially cleared their cloudy or green aquarium, many persons will also state after using these particular UVs that this is all any UV is good for.
This UV is one that has influenced many a comment by persons I have read or dealt with in emails, etc. with little understanding of aquarium or pond UV Sterilization that all a UV is good for is clarification, but not disease control or improved Redox. The facts are, one cannot purchase this UV and then use it as a model of what a true high dwell time UV can accomplish!!!

Aquarium or Pond UV Sterilization; Facts & Information
UV Sterilizers Gimmicks; 'Turbo' Twists, Baffles Wipers

A couple of problems that often show themselves after 6-12 months are leakage due to poor build and worse a VERY high electronic ballast failure.
See my other review about this problem:

Weak or Poor Quality Ballasts; UV Sterilizer Review

Another issue no Compact UV can compare on is dwell time.
In a controlled test from:
A controlled dwell time experiment

Also Read UV Sterilization, Facts & Information

Here is a quote (courtesy the above website, please read the referenced article for more):
A controlled experiment between a Terminator 13 Watt UV Sterilizer (which is one of the best if not the best compact UV Sterilizer design as per water contact design) VERSUS a TMC Vecton 8 Watt "High Dwell Time" UV tells the story of UVC Dwell Time:

Using a Rio 600 (200 gph), with 2 feet of 5/8" ID tubing; the dwell time inside the Vecton was 2.6 seconds, while the Terminator was 3 seconds.
It is important to note that the Terminator holds DOUBLE the water volume at 20 oz. water (meaning a less efficient design with more water not within the optimal .3 cm exposure zone) versus 10 oz. of water for the 8 Watt Vecton. Keep in mind that the Terminator is one of the best designed Compact UVs, as it is noteworthy that the Turbo Twist has an even higher water volume due to even less efficient water contact design.
The result is 6.66 ounces of water per second is exposed to UVC irradiation for the 13 Watt Terminator while 3.84 ounces of water per second is exposed to UVC irradiation for the 8 Watt Vecton. MORE IMPORTANTLY the results are 1.95 watts of UVC energy per second for the Terminator 13 watt versus 2.08 watts of UVC energy per second for the 8 Watt Vecton/

Now consider that the TurboTwist 3x actually has a flow pattern that has less water within the correct distance of UV Lamp from UV Sterilizer containment 'wall' when compared to the Terminator used in this test.
See: UV Sterilizer, Basic Factors for Sterilization

So my question is; WHY spend often as much money for the vastly over-priced TurboTwist with a lower quality Chinese build versus the European designed High Dwell Time TMC Vecton 8 thru 25 Watt??
Now with the advanced Vecton Titan UV available from AAP (American Aquarium Products), there is simply no excuse to purchase a lessor Category B model such as the Turbo Twist.

Based on my use and others, this is a no brainer, especially after one aquarium maintenance friend in particular purchased several Turbo Twist 3x UV Sterilizers and after a a year, he had to replace all of them and he noted that the observed actual sterilization results were much better when replaced with the TMC Titan Vecton UV Sterilizers/Clarifiers

TMC AAP Vecton Titan UV Sterilizer

The bottom line is, the Turbo Twist in my experience & research is the most over priced UV Sterilizer on the market for what it can do and its longevity of build (a lifespan of about 1/5 that of a Vecton or Aqua Ultraviolet), so please do not fall for the hype, YouTube Video, misguided forum, or Amazon reviews for what basically should be a $50 or less UV Clarifier.

A resource for these AAP Titan UVs:
*TMC Vecton UV Sterilizers/Clarifiers


There is a newer website that the search engines love (in particular Bing) that claims to be a real science based website that has knocked the TMC Vectons, and worse, the author of many articles on the internet, including on the AAP website of which he was the founder.
This website is aquariumscience.org, which does seem to have some good researched information, but from what I and others can tell, certainly not the practical professional experience of many such as Carl Strohmeyer whom has questioned his motives.
What is sad, as even though much of what Mr. Strohmeyer has been through is not in the public domain, there is enough on the AAP website and his own personal bio sties for anyone who reads this to question his integrity and experience is total BS. Personally I know him quite well, and the facts are this many has given up a considerable amount to help others and his family, so this makes this aquariumscience.org charges all the more disgusting. Throw in the plagiarism of copyright content, and misinformation about the AAP/TMC UVs and his attacks on Mr. Strohmeyer's work into Redox, which came only as to considerable professional experience demanded a different answer to the results he was getting than the standard scientific fare of the day, and my opinion is to please avoid this website.

The facts are that the TMC line of UV Sterilizers are by far NOT the most expensive (this honor goes to the Aqua Ultraviolet line, which are good, but when everything is factored in, not as good as the AAP?TMC line).
What people in the industry with hands on experience know (not social media influencers), is that not only does this line of UV Sterilizer perform better, but just as importantly, lasts well over a decade with easily availability of parts, unlike the vast majority of UVs that might be 1/3 the price, but only last 1/5 the time producing 50% of the results (based on REAL experience, which it is clear that aquariumscience.org has NEVER even used a single one of these UVs).

CLifeGuard 15 Watt UV Sterilizer The 'Category B' LifeGuard 15 Watt is an example of another somewhat lessor known UV Sterilizer.
I have used these UV Sterilizers going back to 1978.

The build quality is good (comparable to the TMC UV Sterilizer), as well the dwell time is very good, however the flow pattern is not as good as the TMC Vecton & Advantage, or the Emperor and Aqua UV.
I also have found these UVs somewhat over priced for what you get, although the price has come down to be more comparable to the slightly more superior TMC Vecton 15 Watt.

My summary of the Lifeguard is while it is still inferior to the TMC, Aqua, & Emperor; it is still an excellent UV Sterilizer and far superior to the Turbo Twist and other Compact UVs.

By Steve copyright 2023

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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


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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.


Updated 9/6/13


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).

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.


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


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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