. 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

Aquarium UV Sterilizer Combinations


Aquarium UV Sterilizer Ideas; Part Two

Updated 9/21/13

In part one about 18 months ago I noted using intake and return adapters as another way to connect UV Sterilizers to aquariums, especially smaller aquariums where the use of more traditional set ups such as canister filter or sumps is not possible.
In this article I will expand on this idea and as well note some problems with many sump set ups and with the growing popularity of internal UV Sterilizers, which although they make work, they are prone to leak problems that usually result in a short lifespan.

First I will start with the use of power heads, pumps, or Internal Filters (which is my first choice do to pre filtration of water allowing for a more effective UV Sterilizer).

Aquarium UV installation diagram with Internal Filter or Power head
Here is a basic picture for plumbing a compact UV Sterilizer using an Internal Filter or Power Head. The lines and UV can be more neat than the diagram shows (this is just for emphasis). This demonstration is shown on the front of the tank for easier viewing, obviously this would be placed on the back of an aquarium.
You may also place your power head/ internal filter on its side for an easier tubing application.
The picture can be enlarged by clicking on it too!

The advantage of this set up is that it allows a small (or larger aquarium) that may only have a HOB filter such as a Whisper to also have a UV Sterilizer PLUS more filtration and filter redundancy.
In all bluntness, this type of set up is not all that expensive when you consider the costs of fish and medications or simply piece of mind that a UV Sterilizer can provide in improving water quality (such as Redox) and lower water borne disease incidence. This is not to say that a UV Sterilizer will solve all your problems, but they are often a major piece of the good water parameter puzzle and in my experience should be included in most aquarium set ups if at all possible.
Please see this article for more why:
UV Sterilization; How UV Sterilizers Work

Compact UV Sterilizer kit with Internal Filter

Here is a picture of an inexpensive set up that is ready to go for an aquarium as small as a 10 gallon aquarium, as well as a set up with a 9 watt Compact UV that would easily work for a 100 gallon aquarium.

Please follow this link for more information about these kits:
Terminator UV Sterilizers/Filter Kits

Please click pictures to enlarge or visit website

Similar to the above ideas, many UV Sterilizers, such as the Custom UV Sterilizer pictured to the left, can be hung on the back and then connected to an Internal Filter such as the SunSun Internal Filter or other similar Internal Filters for a simple UV application, especially when a canister filter is not available or practical (or even desired).


A popular use of UV Sterilizers is in the sumps of high flow sump systems of large aquariums (especially marine), unfortunately the majority that I have seen when called out on service calls were installed improperly often resulting in the owner of the system to pronounce the UV Sterilizer a "failure" when in actuality the flow rate was way to fast for the UV Sterilizer wattage installed. As a generalization it is best to have a flow rate of under 20-30 gph per watt for a UV to be effective for bacteria, Redox, algae (slower yet for parasites) This flow rate can vary based on many factors that I will go into here (I recommend reading the link earlier in this article for more on this subject), I will only state that although you do not need to pay a fortune for a UV Sterilizer, most of the units selling for under $50 are junk and even a few name brands selling for over $100 are not delivering what you pay for.

UV T valve diverter for high flow pumps
UV Sterilizer Diverter Valves are the answer to most high flow pump problems.
For use with ponds, sumps, or any high flow water application where the flow rate exceeds the recommended GPH per watt so as to divert/bypass some of the water around the UV Sterilizer.

See this site for more: UV Sterilizer Diverter Valves


With the above kit or similar in mind, please be careful of the relatively new Internal/Submersible UV Sterilizers sold under a couple of brand names (same design) BUT REJECTED by several wholesalers and retailers due to the fact that they tend to leak internally damaging and destroying the electrical components of the Unit often resulting in complete failure in under a year.

As well, while these UV Sterilizers did perform a good job at clearing "green water"/Clarification (while functioning), in tests these UVs did a poor job of performing Stage One Sterilization due to flow pattern and distance from the UV Bulb/Lamp inside the unit. Level one (stage one) UV Sterilization is essential if you would like to step up in Aquarium or Pond Disease prevention by not only killing disease pathogens, but improve Aquarium Redox which also in turn improves fish health by improving fish immune response.

More information & products:
*Levels of UV Sterilization
*Aquarium Redox
*Replacement UV Bulb/Lamp

I personally rejected these units (The Green Killing Machine) after Kokaho Aquarium and other users of these Internal/Submersible UV Sterilizers found total failure of most or all of them within a year or often much sooner.
What is even worse is that a manufacturer of the most popular of these internal UVs had someone spam my YouTube video demonstration of how to install a custom UV on an aquarium using Internal Filters.
I then commented on their clear attempt to push this product that I in good conscience could not recommend (in fact I noted in my comment that it was an awesome idea, which it is, but failed in practicality).
They had the audacity to call ME unprofessional implying that I had gone to their Video when in fact that were trying to peddle their product via a comment on my video.
They also ended up with name calling when they could not change my mind stating that "I needed help".

Honestly in my opinion this is an act of desperation by a company that may have a good concept, but is failing to sell many due to the fact that many in this industry but for a few less than honest retailers refuse to stock these Internal UV Sterilizers (or "algae/green killing machines").
In the case of internal UV Sterilizers I would have loved for these to work, as I think this is a good idea, but I cannot honestly sell something that I know has flaws that will lead to product failure somewhere down the road as well as not being a true UV Sterilizer, rather just a water clarification device.

If this idea appeals to you, avoid the before mentioned Submersible UVs along with similar models such as the Submariner sold at PetCo, Amazon, TruAqua and elsewhere and give the only one of a couple Submersible UVs I have found to be both reliable and able to actually provide level one UV Sterilization.
SunSun CUP series

See this Review from this website:
Submersible UV Sterilizer/Clarifier Review; Killing Machine, more

Please read this article about the use of UV Sterilizers for a Researched and regularly updated information. No advanced aquarium keeper should consider their knowledge complete until they have read this content, including the cited references such as about Aquarium Redox:


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Aquarium UV Sterilizer Ideas; Filter Combinations, etc.

Unique Aquarium/Pond UV Sterilizer Combinations; Sponge Filter, Power Head, Internal Filter
  Updated 9/8/13

This post/article is intended to provide some unique (or "outside the box") combinations of different ways to connect a TRUE UV Sterilizer to an aquarium. Not one of the Internal or Hang On Back UVs flooding the market from China that can at best perform clarification, not true level one sterilization.
Review of: Internal UVs

Most aquarium /pond keepers are aware of the use of canister filters or sump pumps for aquariums or pressurized filter or similar pond filters for ponds. These are the most commonly thought filters for connection of TRUE UV Sterilizers.

Hopefully these ideas I will present will be food for thought for those sitting on the fence as to whether a True UV Sterilizer is feasible for their pond or particularly aquarium. Even small aquarium keepers (such as a 20 gallon) miss the benefits that a UV Sterilizer provides due perceived high costs or filters that cannot accommodate a UV Sterilizer (such as a Power HOB filter like an Aqua Clear).

More information on:
Clear Pond Information
Basic Aquarium Care

Often even a small aquarium keeper can spend more on medications or lost fish than the cost of a UV Sterilizer(& this does not even factor in the heartbreak many feel at the loss of a finned pet). This is not to say that a UV Sterilizer will stop all losses, however I can say emphatically after 30 years of testing and using UV Sterilization in many different aquariums (including controlled tests) that a properly installed and well designed UV Sterilizer will lower the incidence of disease, & increase longevity and over all health by killing many disease pathogens in the water and by improving the Aquarium/pond Redox Balance.
Reference; The importance of Aquarium Redox Balance for Fish Health

An important key is "properly installed and well designed UV Sterilizer" as there are some UV Sterilizers that we have tested that have failed either in effectiveness or in reasonable longevity (such as the popular Submariner/Internal UV Sterilizers that a few stores and web sites are unfortunately promoting). Superior Design Pond UV Clarifier, Sterilizer A well made UV Sterilizer will not be effective at flow rates over 25-30 gph per watt for Sterilization (higher for green water control). Some of the more efficient UV Sterilizers such as the TMC Pond Advantage & TMC Vecton have flow patterns that allow the highest possible flow rates while still remaining effective (Bluntly, there is not better line of UVs at any price than the TMC line for Ponds and Aquariums). See the picture to the left which displays what sets a premium high flow design UV Sterilizer apart from the rest (this is a TMC Pond Advantage 25 Watt UV Sterilizer/Clarifier). As well, if the UV Bulbs/Lamps are not changed every six months (the quartz sleeve should also be cleaned at this time). See this website for a cross reference guide if you already have a UV Sterilizer but have failed to change the UVC Bulb in the last six months:
See http://www.uvreplacmentbulbs.com/ for a cross reference directory of premium UV Lamps/Bulbs

Here are a few different ways to connect a UV Sterilizer to your Aquarium or Pond (often quite cheaply too):

Please Click on most pictures to enlarge for a better view

This first combination can be used with many power heads such as the Via Aqua 1300/ SunSun HJ-1542 and Sponge Filter such as the Hydro Sponge #3 pictured here (you can also remove the base for better aesthetics, it was left on in this picture to avoid any confusion). This combination also employs a return and intake adapter.
Product References:
*SunSun HJ-1542 Pump
*Aquarium Sponge Filters
*Plumbing Parts; Return & Intake Adapters

A larger pump such as the Rio 1100 or even the "high end" Rio HF line of Pumps can be substituted for a larger aquarium or pond, as well the Hydro Pond #4 is well design for this application too without need for adaptation for most pumps (see the small inset picture).
Product References:
*Rio/Taam 1100 Pump
*Hydro Pond/Sump Sponge Filters
*Rio HF (High Flow) Pumps

This combination is quite straight forward for use in small aquariums (or even patio ponds that have "walls"). This picture demonstrates a SunSun JP-23 along with a Hydro Sponge #3 Filter and return and intake adapters.
Obviously other power head brands can be adapted as well and although one can purchase the return/intake adapters (see the link in the previous sentence), these can also be a simple DIY project too.
Product References:
*SunSun JP-23 Power Head Pump
*Hydro Sponge #3 Filter

Finally, this combination incorporates the premium, high dwell time Vecton UV for unsurpassed UVC Sterilization up to level 2.
The picture to the left picture demonstrates a Vecton 8 Watt UV, with a Rio 1000, Filter Max #3 Pre-Filter, 5/8" Tubing, and an Intake and Return Adapter.
The small valve included with the Rio 1000 can be used to slow the flow during critical times when a higher level of UV Sterilization is desired (the Rio 100, 1700 also include this valve for larger Vecton installations.
Please click on the picture to enlarge

This last combination is the most effective and yet it is still a very simple application for those not desiring the use of a canister filters or one of the cheap Chinese Internal UV or Hang On UV" imports flooding the market that not only are not all that reliable or durable, but can barely perform UV clarification, yet alone important level one sterilization (or level 2).
Product References:
*TMC High Dwell Time Vecton 8 Watt UV
*Rio/Taam 1000 Pump
*Filter Max #3 Sponge Pre-Filter
*Aquarium Tubing; 5/8" ID

Further Information, References:
*How UVC, Ultraviolet Sterilization Works
*Premium Pond and Aquarium UV Clarifiers, Sterilizers
*Compact Lasting, UV Sterilizers
*UV Replacement Bulbs

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