What Do Aquarium Ultraviolet (UV) Sterilizers Provided?

Algae is normally seen as either the start of getting an aquarium setup (due to all of the excess nutrients) or seen as an aspect that shows that the chemistry is perfectly balanced out (since specific types of algae require good nutrients within the water and the specific levels of lighting). Additionally, UV sterilizers can be used to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present inside the aquarium. A vast majority of parasitic and bacterial infections can be killed if UV sterilizers were being used, however many do not know that these given organisms live within their aquarium. Medicines can only be effective once it is known what is affecting the inhabitants, and is normally only able to be given once the given parasitic or bacterial infection has infected the fish to a degree where it is visible to the human eye. However, it is to be noted that ultraviolet light can only target free-floating microorganisms, and will not be harmful to those that are attached (or inside) or fish, on substrates, plants, decorations, corals, or the walls of the aquarium.

Advantages and Disadvantages

With any piece of aquarium equipment, there are various types of UV sterilizers that all have their advantages and negatives. Some units can be sold as standalone units, some are built into filters, and others can be added into the existing piping of filters, but almost all of them have a rated lifetime for the light before it needs to be replaced (even if it appears to not be burnt out). To be most effective, there should be a flow rate that is controlled to allow for the UV sterilizer to process the water moving past it fully per the given manufacturer's specifications. For most, adding the UV sterilizer at the end of a filter is more effective as the ultraviolet light is not blocked by any debris that may be sucked in at the beginning of the filtration process. It is to be noted, however, that after around 6 months the light may still be turning on/running, however, the effectiveness of the ultraviolet rays it produces will decrease drastically unless there aren't any ultraviolet rays being generated and instead just some visible light.

In summary, the advantages of having one include;

  • Ability to remove parasites, harmful bacteria, or micro-organisms within the water column.
  • Ability to remove free-floating algae within the water column (and keep water green-free).

The disadvantages of having one include;

  • They require constant water movement to work, which means it needs to be near your filter, within your filter, or a part of a powerhead unit.
  • The bulbs are only good for a certain timeframe (each manufacturer has a different lifespan for their bulbs) and then need to be replaced, even if they still appear to light up.
  • They cannot cure fish that are already sick or remove algae that are growing inside of the aquarium on decorations or on the walls.

Overall Benefits

Incorporating an Aquarium UV Sterilizer can allow you to not only get rid of any excess algae but has a range of more benefits that many do not consider. You can boost the effectiveness of your filtration, and clarity of the water by preventing any free-floating algae from being able to settle down, and lastly, put additional safeguards towards the health of your aquarium by preventing microorganisms from spreading rapidly. In many cases, the benefit is great if the aquarium is in a location that will always have algae, contains a vast majority of rare or priced inhabitants, or in situations such as an outdoor pond where filtration can only go so far to prevent algae buildup in the water itself or on the rocks.