. 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

Correct UV Sterilizer/Clarifier Applications


TMC Pond Advantage, Aquarium Vecton UV Sterilizer, ClarifierI often get questions or even complaints about the use of UV Sterilizers/Clarifiers for Aquariums & Ponds.
I will answer a couple of questions that indicate the improper of UV Sterilization for Ponds or Aquariums.

Indepth Information on UV Sterilization:http://www.americanaquariumproducts.com/AquariumUVSterilization.html

Updated 9/24/13

(1) Question; "My Pond turns pea soup green as soon as my UV Sterilizer UV-C Bulb burns out or is removed"

Answer; This certainly shows that you have a correctly installed and functional UV Clarifier.
However this also tells me that you depend too much on your UV Clarifier/Sterilizer as although I certainly recommend these devices, a pond keeper should not have a system that is all or nothing as per the UV Clarifier.

I strongly suggest increasing filtration, especially bio filtration that removes many of the nutrients necessary for an algae bloom.
A Bio Falls Filter (either purchased or DIY), a Pressurized Pond Filter can either be added or even duplicated.
Pond Veggie FilterAnother type of Filter I set up in over 90% of my ponds is the "Veggie Filter". Properly constructed, these plant filters can really "scrub" many nutrients otherwise utilized by free floating algae.

I have found in ponds with good mechanical/bio filters such as a Pressurized Pond filter along with a Veggie Filter rarely got overly green in summer when the UV Clarifier was disconnected or broken down.

For further information about pond veggie filters, please see:
DIY Veggie, Plant Filters.

Sources for Pond Pressurized Filters & UVs:
UV Pond and Aquarium Clarifiers
Pressurized Pond Filter

(2) Question: "I have been told a UV Sterilizer does not really help a saltwater or freshwater aquarium other than clarity. I did not see any difference than this when I added a 9 Watt UV Sterilizer to my aquarium sump (a pump rated at 900 gph)"

Answer: This answer is much more complex than the last, so I will first state that a thorough reading of this blog and even more the UV Sterilization article below should be done:
"UV Sterilization; Facts and Myths"

A few points: First of all, 900 gallons per hour is much too fast for a 9 Watt UV to perform Sterilization, and likely little clarification either.
*Many persons who slam UV Sterilizers for aquarium use, have them incorrectly installed or are utilizing Sterilizer/Clarifier devices of poor quality for anything other than clarification, such as the Green Killing Machine".
Please see: UV Equipment to Avoid

Here are three parameters required for effective UV Sterilization that are often missed:

  • Flow Rate; this should be 45-60 gph per watt for Clarification, 20-35 gph per watt for level 1 Sterilization, & 8-12 gph per watt for level 2 Sterilization.
    For more in depth exposure time information, please see “UV Sterilization; UVC Penetration (Microwatts second/cm2)”.
    See the sections dealing with UV-C Penetration gives a more detailed explanation of the time required to kill pathogens based on wattage & distance for the UV-C source.
    For example the bacteria Vibrio requires a UVC exposure of 6500 mW/cm2 or more, this means an exposure time of 5.68 seconds for a 9 watt UV lamp is required to kill this pathogen.

  • Aquarium (or Pond) Turnover rate; this should be Once per 2-3 hours for Clarification, 1.5 times per hour for level 1 Sterilization, & Up to 4 times per hour for level 2 Sterilization

  • UV-C Penetration; in simple terms this is often a problem with the equipment itself with too much distance from the bulb to the outer wall of water containment resulting in much of the water not being properly irradiated even with proper flow rate or turnover rate.
    Examples are Canister/Pressurized filters equipped with built in UV-C Lamps, internal UVs such as the before noted Submariner/Killing machine, or even otherwise good UVs with baffles to slow water flow but in turn keep much of the water at too great a distance form the UV-C Irradiation.

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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 or Pond Green Water Control; UV Sterilizer


Pictures of an UV Sterilizer System for the Clarification Green or Cloudy Water in Aquariums
Updated 1-2-19

Vecton 8 Watt Category A Aquarium UV SterilizerThis is a basic post that more entails the use of pictures that were provided to me courtesy Paul Phillips to demonstrate via photos the progress of tank water clarification with the use of an AAP Custom 15 Watt UV Sterilizer/Clarifier (no longer built).
Premium Aquarium/Pond UV Sterilizers

Before I proceed, I should note that this is not limited to the use of the custom 15 Watt UV, as any well made UV can perform green water control, however level 1 UV Sterilization (what I recommend) and level 2 UV Sterilization often requires better equipment, installation and flow rates.
Levels of Sterilization

Sadly much of the UV equipment now being sold can at best perform green water control, not the more effective level one sterilization. Besides the before mentioned UV Sterilizer, consider the premium TMC Vecton/Pond Advantage line of UV Sterilizers as these not only are durable, but bluntly the best non commercial Pond Green Water Control UV Clarifiers at any price.
What is noteworthy is even if green water clarification is all you are looking for, a true UV Sterilizer will clear and maintain green water much more quickly. It is also noteworthy that most UV Clarifiers are of much lower quality build and only use medium pressure UV lamps which have only a 7% UVC output; so when one compares the price and effectiveness over just three years, the savings for one of these cheapie Amazon or eBay UV Clarifiers quickly fades away compared to a true quality True UV Sterilizer such as the Vecton or Advantage!!

TMC Vecton, Advantage Aquarium, Pond UV Sterilizer

Please Click on all Pictures to enlarge for a better view

The first picture demonstrates his aquarium system showing the intake adapter, return adapter, the power head/pump, and the TMC UV Sterilizer under the aquarium.

I would also suggest the use of a Pre filter such as the API Filter Max #3 (or a Sponge Filter such as the API Hydro Sponge #3) for improved UV Sterilization as this lowers debris/turbidity in the water column which in turn improves the effectiveness of the UV Sterilizer. Other than the lack of a form of pre-filtration, this is an excellent set up.
UV Sterilizer Aquarium Set Up

This second picture demonstrates a before and after of this aquarium with the application of the UV Sterilizer:
Green Water Freshwater Aquarium, before and after UV Sterilizer

This final photo demonstrates a day 1 through day 7 view of this same aquarium when viewed from the side panel (this view is through a 48 inch column of water and thus will show any cloudy/green water more readily):
Side View of Green, Cloudy Water Aquarium, Day 1 through 7 with UV Sterilizer

As a final note, to maintain the effectiveness of this or any UV Sterilizer, the aquarium keeper should change the UV Bulb every six months; in this particular UV Sterilizer the required bulb is the G15T8 UV Bulb

I would also suggest reading this article in the section dealing with Cloudy & Green Water for other suggestions and causes of Green/Cloudy Water in freshwater aquariums:
Basic Freshwater Aquarium Care

Further Reading for dealing with sick aquarium fish:
Fish Diseases, How to Treat Sick Fish
Fish Diseases | How to Treat Sick Fish

Clear Aquarium, Clear Pond, Cloudy Aquarium, Cloudy Pond, Cloudy, Green Aquarium, Green Pond, Green Water, internal uv sterilizer, TMC Advantage UV Sterilizer, Vecton, Green Pond Water, UV Clarifier

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