A UV sterilizer uses an ultraviolet bulb to destroy harmful organisms, such as parasites, viruses, algae, and bacteria. An effective sterilizer, this device works wonders on aquarium water. It works so well that companies often use it to purify water on a larger scale, and to control algae growth in outdoor ponds.

If you have a home aquarium, chances are you already have several filtration units taking care of the water. A UV sterilizer is a good addition to an aquarium, although it should be the last stage of the filtration process. It’s important that aquarium water passes through the mechanical filter before moving through the UV unit. The mechanical or canister filter removes solids so that any water that passes through the UV unit afterwards is cleaned with optimal results.

UV sterilizers continue to work well as long as the bulb wattage is sufficient and the bulb isn’t too old. The efficiency of the device also depends on the cleanliness of the quartz sleeve and the flow rate of the unit.

The Bulb

As time goes by UV the bulb will start to lose its effectiveness, which is why you should replace it every 6 months. You can purchase bulbs between 8 watts and 130 watts – a higher wattage does a better job at cleaning the water. Devices with a lower wattage bulb require a lower flow rate to work well.

Flow Rate

The flow rate is also an important factor to consider - a slower flow rate is more effective at killing parasites, in addition to algae and bacteria. The flow rate is measured in either gallons per hour or liters per hour. A device with a 15-watt bulb has no problem controlling algae and bacteria at a 120 gph flow, but it won’t kill parasites unless the flow rate drops to 75 gph.

Clean the Quartz

The quartz sleeve is located where the UV bulb fits into the device. A lot of people forget about this part of the UV sterilizer and fail to give it a good cleaning every once in a while. Cleaning removes buildup and ensures that the UV sterilizer continues to work at top capacity. More expensive sterilizers are designed with a wiper handle positioned outside of the device for fast and easy cleaning of the sleeve, without having to take everything apart.

Luckily, it’s easy to find UV sterilizers these days, in local stores and online. These devices make a wonderful addition to any aquarium, but they come with a hefty price tag, especially when you factor in the cost of replacement bulbs.

Saltwater aquarium enthusiasts are more likely to purchase UV sterilizers because they improve the quality of the water and offer another layer of protection for expensive saltwater fish.

Although a UV sterilizer is not a necessity, many aquarium hobbyists do find that this device is effective at maintaining clean water and keeping fish and other aquatic life healthy and happy. It all comes down to personal choice and what works best for your aquarium.

JBJ UV Sterilizers. JBJ Aquariums
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