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When maintaining an aquarium, your
biggest enemies can be the smallest organisms. Keeping these microscopic
miscreants under control can be a hassle, but may be made simpler with the help
of a UV sterilizer. This handy attachment will help protect both the current
aquarium inhabitants and new additions from the health risks presented by
bacteria and parasites. They use a special fluorescent UV lamp that produces
light at a very specific wavelength, 253.7 nanometers. During the process,
aquarium water is pumped past the lamp at a low flow rate and is then rendered
free of bacteria, algae and parasites. When choosing a UV sterilizer for your
setup, some factors that should be considered include the type of detrimental
organisms you intend to control, which flow rate is required, and which type of
sterilizer would best suit your tank.
UV sterilizers differ in many ways.
Let’s start with positioning in the water flow. You can choose either in-line or
hang-on. In-line models are plumbed into the system after the mechanical
filtration unit, serving as the last filter before the water makes its way back
to the aquarium. A ball valve or “T” connector may be needed to in the return
line in order to slow the flow rate. Hang-on models are made to be mounted on
the back of the aquarium and are usually run by a submerged power head or a
return line from a canister filter. Installation and maintenance are generally
easier with these models.
For proper use, the sterilizer must
be matched to a specific flow rate to ensure it works efficiently; a slower flow
rate is required for controlling parasites because they are more resistant than
most bacteria. Charts containing information on tank size and corresponding bulb
wattage are often included with UV sterilizers.
Even though they are generally very
safe, do not use a UV sterilizer when you first cycle your aquarium; this may
eliminate beneficial bacteria before they a chance to establish along the
substrate or bio-media. The effectiveness of medications can also be compromised
by the use of UV light. Due to this reaction, the sterilizer should be turned
off when medication is administered, especially chelated copper treatments.
Once you introduce a UV Sterilizer into your system, carefully
monitor your aquarium's temperature. Depending on your aquarium size and flow
rate, a UV Sterilizer may add heat to your aquarium water. Installing a chiller
can fix this.
Like all types
of equipment, your UV Sterilizer needs to be properly maintained to remain
effective. Quartz sleeves should be cleaned at least every six months and UV
bulbs will need to be replaced after 9 to 12 months of continuous use.