UV Sterilizers: Under, Over or Just Right?

BRS

UV Sterilizers on a saltwater reef aquarium?

  • Underrated

    Votes: 105 24.3%
  • Overrated

    Votes: 141 32.6%
  • Just Right

    Votes: 186 43.1%

  • Total voters
    432

revhtree

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Today is our QOTD where we feature saltwater aquarium methods, ideas, tricks, equipment, livestock etc. where YOU the viewer will decide if the subject of the topic is deserving of the Underrated, Overrated or Just Right rating! f you have ideas for topics please message me!

Today we are going to talk about UV Sterilizers. ReefBum says that "Reef keepers have long debated whether the constant use of a UV sterilizer is helpful or harmful to a saltwater reef tank. In essence, a UV sterilizer has a UV bulb in a water tight compartment that will kill or zap undesirables in the water that pass through the unit. Undesirables include free floating algae spores, parasites and troublesome bacteria such as heterotrophic bacteria, which are considered “scavenger” bacteria and can bloom, causing cloudy water." Read more here.

1. So what do you think about UV Sterilizers for your reef aquarium? Underrated, Overrated or Just Right?

2. Do you have a UV Sterilizer and if so which brand do you have?

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DeniseAndy

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I have never had them in over 17 years of keeping. However, I just installed one on my 40g/20g lps/frag/grow-out tanks. I battle algae, dinos, and cyano. So, I thought why not try.
Now my 210g, I never thought I would get one until this year. The dinos and cyano are driving me crazy. So, will install it over the weekend. Just got most pieces ready, so should be a quick install. Dry fit done.
I hope to run it only over the evening hours, but will start with 24/7 for a few weeks for sure.

Forgot to tell you which I went with, Lifeguard Aquatics. The monster on my 210g is Lifegard Aquatics Pro-MAX 3" Body 55W Amalgam High Output UV Sterilizer. The little one is Lifegard Aquatics Aquastep Pro 15 Watt UV Sterilizer.

I got the Hydor Sletz D DC pumps to go with them. The 3200 and the 750.
 

stanleo

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I don't have one and have no intention of getting one. I think I do a pretty good job with controlling nutrient levels with my fuge and skimmer. I think a UV sterilizer would be overkill. I haven't had any problems (knock on wood) with bad algae outbreaks. I have had them to lesser extent but I have been able to fix that with minor adjustments to my maintenance.
 

Vette67

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I had 2 strong UV's in place for a couple years while I was trying to battle ich. 2 - Lifegard Aquatics 40 watt sterilizers in line with my return pump. Towards the end of that run, I did an Aquabiomics test, which showed I was substantially depleted on my bacterial diversity. Of course I'll never know for sure, but I do think long term UV use substantially reduced the bacterial diversity in my tank. I bought some live sand (real ocean live sand) and a bunch of other critters (pods, stars, bristleworms), and did a follow up Aquabiomics test a couple months later. My bacterial diversity substantially increased when I added this and turned off my UV. So my opinion is that UV is a useful tool to fight a pathogen, whether that be a parasite, or a nuisance algae. But I would not use one long term or indefinitely without counting on it reducing the number and species of bacteria in your tank. You can judge for yourself whether or not you value bacterial diversity in your tank. I for one, think it is key to a thriving reef tank.
 

DeniseAndy

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Ouch! I have a check valve built into mine so if for some reason the flow stops (tank maintenance, feeding, etc), but power on for the light, it will not dry out. The small one does not empty by position will always have water.I will be double checking though.
 

Reefs and Geeks

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I think UV is pretty effective, but I've been pretty unhappy with my 57W Aqua UV. It only pulls 45W from the wall, so after the transformer it's gotta be putting out even less power to the bulb (maybe 10% or so). So it's about 30% less power than advertised. Been trying to get ahold of Aqua UV about it but they have been avoiding my inquiries for months. It works, but not as well as it should. I do think UV on a tank is great at helping keep the water clear, and somewhat helpful at maintaining certain issues. I'd personally try Pentair next time though.
 

rusty hannon

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I voted just right as I use one on my and my wife's tank. We don't have problems w parasites and don't suppose we will. I do think its important to mention that UV use kills as many good bacteria as bad so unless you know you're system is ready to handle it , it too should b taken, installed, slowly.
 

LVReef

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I got a 90w Lifegard Amalgam 3" for my 225G build. It'll run at 466gph to fight protozoan but I can always adjust the flow if I need to fight dino. It doesn't have to run all the time or be a "required" part of your reef but for me it's peace of mind. Worst case scenario, it'll be an expensive 90w heater. Best case scenario, it'll save the lives of my fish.
 

Manos

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Hey fellow reefers, I had a huge problem with hetero bacteria, which you may see in my profile, I did some things that other fellows reefers told me as well as my lfs, but at the end nothing solved the problem except of a UV unit. I didn't go to anything fancy and costly, I just installed a very low priced Chinese uv in the 7 watt range
and I used it for 2 weeks, my tank now is crystal clear!!! I may used it again when the tank will come to the point where it need it. For that reason I vote it is just right! After all a uv may only give us good things and not bad things as I understand it...
 

hsosa

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Most of the large aquarium use uv. The science is there. Fish farms . Agricultural fish farms use uv. I use a chinese Amazon uv $20 on Amazon with a timer on off every 35 mins. No Dino no bacteria blooms. Healthy fish. Clear water, yeah don’t look at the uv directly I’m looking at that 65 dollar uv on Amazon. Fyi most of the expensive uv use the same china uv that’s 20 bucks . Reefers paying over $300 for the same bulb lol.
 

fishbulb

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I have been waiting for this topic, I always heard you cannot have too big of a UV, so I added a 160 watt to my 130 gallon tank, I had to add a chiller to keep the tank down to 72 degrees! My ORP goes up to like 500 does that matter?

This is actually a hidden perk of UV sterilizers and why I like them.

They will raise ORP. In that regards, they work just like ozone. Ozone breaks apart organic molecules that turn the water yellow by oxidizing them. UV does the same thing by breaking the molecules apart with very short wavelength UV light. So a UV sterilizer can be used not just to sterilize, but to actually make water clearer from dissolved organics. You do need an appreciable amount of UV light though, and it seems like you've got it with your 160W unit. Personally, I hate fluorescent bulbs and will the be the first to jump on the LED-based UV sterilizer when they become powerful enough (likely in several more years, but the medical industry is clamoring for this). I wouldn't get it for sterilization, but I'll get it for exactly the reason you found, to increase ORP and make the water clearer. I have an ozone set up. It's kind of an overkill hassle on a 75g tank. I took it down last month. A compact, powerful LED sterilizer to raise ORP is exactly what I want.
 
BRS

What temperature do you think it too high for your reef tank?

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