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UV Sterilization

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UV Sterilization


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.

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