One way to make sure that the water in your aquarium is as clean and healthy as possible is to get a UV sterilizer. Even if you have an excellent filtration system and are meticulous about water quality, there are some aggressive organisms that can be eliminated by adding a UV sterilizer.
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How Does It Work?
A UV sterilizer looks like similar to a light. They sit inside the aquarium partially or completely submerged in water. The fluorescent light hits the water as it passes the bulb and any organisms in the water are eradicated. This can be anything from algae, bacteria, and viruses that are free-floating. It will not affect anything that’s attached to any fish in your tank. It’s effective because the UV light interferes with the microorganisms’ DNA, mutating it and prevent future growth or reproduction.
What Contributes to a UV Sterilizer’s Effectiveness?
While UV sterilizers are pretty effective, there are some things that contribute to how well they work in different circumstances.
- The type of organism. All organisms are different and some require pretty high levels of UV light to kill them. Larger things like protozoa might not be affected by a standard UV light. Also, there are some bacteria and viruses that are more resistant to this kind of light than others.
- Cleanliness of Water. Yes, a UV sterilizer is meant to help with this, but think about it: if the light can’t penetrate, it can’t work. Remember, UV sterilizers are not a first line of defense. Biological, mechanical, and chemical filtration should already be in place and working efficiently. When the water is clear, the UV sterilizer can really get to work.
- Dwell time. The longer the water is exposed to the light, the more effective the treatment is. The flow of the water contributes to this. If you have a waterfall or if you place your UV sterilizer by the output of your filter, the water will move by faster. It’s better to place it somewhere where the water passes slowly without being stagnant.
Can a UV Sterilizer Work in Any Tank?
Yes, but they’re more effective in smaller tanks of about 20 gallons or fewer. They work best in a tank with an effective filtration system in place and are most beneficial in tanks with a lot of fish or coral where bacteria and viruses can be passed through the water from one to another.
Also, do not put a UV sanitizer in a brand new tank. Beneficial bacteria colonies have to have a chance to establish themselves first.
Things to Remember
The biggest thing to remember is that a UV sterilizer is not a substitute for a filter. It should be seen as a sort of insurance policy against the things that creep up despite effective filtration. There are some things that a UV sterilizer isn’t going to be effective against, but it does take care of a majority of the bacteria that spreads through the water in your tank from one fish to another.