. 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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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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Aquarium UV Sterilizers; Misinformation

Updated 7/8/23 (Original Article, April of 2007)

I continue to follow the threads on forums, aquarium articles, and blogs about UV Sterilization.
It still amazes me how much misinformation is spread about this, some masked in science. As I have stated many times before, a UV Sterilizer is not essential for any aquarium, however even for goldfish I have maintained tanks with true UVs, and many other variables, I have noted a differences because of the sterilizer (especially Category A UVs such as the TMC/AAP Vecton UV Sterilizers). Many times this has lead me to a thriving tanks.
For a better aquarium forum: Everything Aquatic, Aquarium Forum, pros that care

What I also find interesting, is that many of these same persons who trash UVs, will then state a protein skimmer as essential.
I have maintained tanks with and without Skimmers (again every other possible variable the same or as close as possible), and noted the changes in measurable parameters and found that yes they are useful, however often not by much and that Mud Filters, DIY DSB filters or similar can often replace them.

Now admittedly Protein Skimmer have come a long ways since I started in this business over in the late 1970s with vastly improved, more efficient, and with less hassles Protein Skimmer such as the TMC V2 Skim Protein Skimmers and similar high end skimmers.
My point is not to trash Protein Skimmers (which have improved), but to only point out the hypocrisy of many in the marine keeping hobby that will insist on a Protein Skimmer while trashing a UV Sterilizer, despite the science behind their use.

Back to the subject at hand, here is a thread I will comment on.
In this thread one person who offered proof (albeit not of the perfect scientific nature, but as good as it can often be within this hobby) was attacked dog pile style without other backing up their statements other than criticizing his methods:

Author #1:

“If you read some scientific documents about UV sterilization of water you will know they talk usually about a standard long, 40W mercury UV tube in a 3" diameter lamp and water passing at the speed about 500 gph or less. This kind of setup delivers dosage of about 18,000 mW-sec/cm2. In order to increase this dosage you need to lower the water flow.
For example, 250 gph flow will in above mentioned lamp would be exposed to the almost double dosage of 34,000 mW-sec/cm2. This dosage is enough to kill bacteria, yeast, some mold spores, viruses and microalgae. And some aquarium grade lamps achieve this effect with unicellular algea.
To kill protozoa (like a well known from school "Paramecium" or our ich-causing "Cryptocaryon irritans") you would have to increase the dosage to the range of 200,000 mW-sec/cm2 !!!!!
This would mean that if you had 3" diameter lab-grade UV lamp with a 40W mercury tube you could give it maximum water flow of 40 gph... How about that!”

My Comment:

First, most studies I have read show under 10,000 mW per se/cm2 for bacteria. (References below)

Second, I have read articles that have shown 30,000 + mW-sec/cm2 with 90 watt bulbs at a rate of 200 + gallons per MINUTE (which even I find hard to believe). My point is it often depends on whose data you look at.

Third, there is more to treatment of Cryptocaryon than just out-right sterilization (I would not want it that high in my reef tanks!!!), there is also the Redox potential which Sterilizers improve and also general over all water quality that is aided by the addition of an Ultraviolet Sterilizer.
Finally, each unit is different and there are many variables from age of the bulb (even a 3 month old bulb has lost 25%), to temperature, design of the unit, pre-filtration, and to flow rate which I have found to be best at 20 gph (or less for most good units in aquarium applications).
See: Filter Max Pre-Filters


Author #2 (edited):
I started keeping marine fish in 1975. I first added a UV sterilizer to my tank about 1977 or '78. It was an 8 watt unit. In the early '90s, I added another. In 2005, I went back to an 8 watt unit.

Without a hospital tank, adding a new fish was always hazardous.
Back when I had no UV on the tank, once one of the fish started showing signs, the life expectancy of that fish was usually less than 3 days; they could not take the combined stress of the parasites and the copper treatment. Other fish in the tank would invariably show signs of infestation later, but would usually make it through.

Once the first sterilizer was added, the rate at which the disease spread decreased; my theory is that some of the parasites were being killed in their free-swimming stage.
After that, the first fish to show signs usually survived, and some of the other fish would never show any signs at all. Once I added the second sterilizer, I never lost a fish to Ich, though I did get the occasional infestation.
In short, there was a direct relationship to the number of watts of UV and the intensity and rate of spread of the disease.

Since I was not religious in changing the UV Bulbs (and the bulbs get less effective with time), I was also in a position to notice that an outbreak was worse when the sterilizer bulb was pretty old. Again, this didn't happen once I had two units running.
Here is a source for premium highest UVC output bulbs: Aquarium/Pond UVC Replacement Lamps

My Comment:

This person most likely had decent units with low flow rates, pre filtration, and useful discernment.
Without elaborating too much (my expanded articles have much about this), as stated earlier there are other aspects of UV Sterilizers such Redox Potential, this is not a hard test to perform; simply test the Redox without a UV and then run one for a week and test again, easy!
So many who trash persons like this have not considered all the variables if they have failed, myself I have seen UV Sterilizers not do a damn thing. These were often 8 watt units running off a sump with a flow rate of 800 gph, a calcified quartz sleeve and poor pre filtration. This is not to say a 8 watt unit (or less) cannot work, just not under those conditions.

  • The "15 Watt Custom UV Sterilizer" I made has performed well in most every application I have placed it in.
  • The standard TMC Vecton & Titan UV Sterilizer are the best when all types are considered, especially the ultra premium TMC Titan UV, which is far superior to every other brand at any price point when compared apples to apples.

What a UV Sterilizer is, is a tool for good aquarium husbandry along with water changes, filtration, protein skimmers and more. In many of my side by side applications with and without, the UV was just one more piece of the puzzle to improved water quality in let’s face it, an artificial environment (unless we want to kid ourselves).

I can think of one experiment in particular with several goldfish tanks at a large service customer of mine. All these tanks in particular had canister filters, cleaning and the same feeding schedule and bio load; the only difference was UV Sterilizers.
The difference in amount of diseased goldfish, growth and color was very noticeable (the vice president did not kno we were performing this experiment and even commented about why some tanks did better than others, after which she had us install UV Sterilizers on all).

Copyright; Carl Strohmeyer

Please read this article about UV Sterilization for a MUCH more in depth understanding of How a UV Sterilizer Truly works:


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