UV Sterilizers: Under, Over or Just Right?

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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

Rubberfrog

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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...
This information would be a lot more helpful if you included your tank size.
 

Roosterjack

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I run a 25w Danner pond UV on my 180 now, but plan to upgrade this to a more purpose built unit. Personally I consider it to be one of those "if you can afford to do it then you ought to" items. I have yet to see any persuasive argument against it other than cost.
 

SPS2020

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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.
Like you, I have an AquaUV Classic 57W sterilizer mounted horizontally on my 100gal IM EXT SPS tank. According to Apex, it pulls 44W and .3A. Stumbled across this thread, FYI:


Anyway, I find it just right and run mine 24\7, have sparkling clear water, no disease and a thriving SPS tank. Not changing a thing! LOL
 
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Steve Justis

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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.
Cool, I took my ozone offline on this system since it was not needed. So if my ORP got to like 550 on the Apex, would you worry at all with it being that high?
 

Tim Olson

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

I've had mine for 15 months and so far it's inconclusive. I purchased it primarily to get rid of Dinos and I think it helped. I am concerned, though, it could be stripping out good bacteria, as was mentioned in an earlier comment. Most of my algae problems have gone away, but the tank still has Caulerpa, that I've found extremely difficult to get rid of. So I'm wondering if I turn off the UV reactor if that might help.

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

I have a Pentair Aquatics Smart UV 18 Watt, mounted vertically, which is slightly oversized for my 60g system.

One factor I wonder about is what is the right the flow rate. Pentair gives a target, I think, for Algae and Bacteria 30,000 µWs/cm² of Suggested/Maximum 219 GPH/356 GPH. Although, I hear much wider ranges of 37-720 GPH on the web.
 

Jax15

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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?

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That's a lot of UV on a 130! Not saying it's bad... I don't really know if it is or not... just saying.
 

Benzophun

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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.
I’m pretty sure UV only kills free floating algae, parasite and bacteria. Your beneficial bacteria lives in / on sand and rock etc. so it shouldn’t be killing good and bad at equal ratios.
 

monique265

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i have 2 turbo twister 36 watt running in tandom. only run at nite from midnite til 4. on a 265 gallon tank. had an ick outbreak that i could not get rid of. started with 2 wks 24-7 then down to when tank was dark only for 2 wks then down to 4 hrs a nite. if i add new fish back to 2 wks on, 2 wks dark then 4 hrs. have not lost a fish to ick sense. and i have a lot of tangs. i run it for ick control, nothing else. works for me
 

MartinWaite

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I have a UV it's sat in a box in the garage to be used as required, I tend to find them pretty pointless as they "kill" indiscriminately bad and good.
Quite a few people site the uv in the return pipe and blast water through them far to fast to do anything but waste electricity and the uv bulb without realising what they have done.
 

chadfish

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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.
Agreed...You need 2 things in a UV - a good bulb and contact time. The bulbs are all the same and you don’t need a brand name to get the water in front of the light...
 

Steve Justis

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That's a lot of UV on a 130! Not saying it's bad... I don't really know if it is or not... just saying.
That's a lot of UV on a 130! Not saying it's bad... I don't really know if it is or not... just saying.
I will keep you posted on how its working for me, Once I added the chiller the water is now much cooler, that UV was good for about 8 points of temp and the tank was like at 80 degrees. Now its a nice 72.
 

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Steve Justis

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I have a second 130 gallon tank that has a 114 watt unit on it. Its a reef tank and the UV has worked well on it, for water clarity and no Ich.
 

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Valhalla Reefer

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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?

Untitled-6.jpg
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?

Untitled-6.jpg
I’ve been in the hobby since 2001..and started a new build 1.5 years ago (had to shut down previous reef due to moving).
I never experienced Dinoflagellates in all those years...I’m guessing either because I always used live rock (?) or Dino strains have become more prevalent and widespread from coral purchases(?)
Anyways, just yesterday...I’ve noticed I’m now a member of the Dino club for the first time.
..So now I’m considering purchasing UV filter, if I’m not able to rid the dinos permanently using Dr. Tim’s Refresh & Waste Away . (Elegance Coral treatment plan )
 

rusty hannon

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I’m pretty sure UV only kills free floating algae, parasite and bacteria. Your beneficial bacteria lives in / on sand and rock etc. so it shouldn’t be killing good and bad at equal ratios.
I'm not sure at all about ratios, but before installing ours we found several papers on the topic and they were similar in that aspect. I agree w you that the good lives and inhabits the rock and substrate and how the killing of good bacteria would happen I don't know.I'm defiantly not trying to give bad or wrong advice, just sharing something we found said about UV and their use. I'm sorry if I was misleading as that was not my intention.
 

jk_s124

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I’m a UV proponent. I run a 25 watt emperor UV in a closed loop. I have dual returns and run the UV through one of my DC returns. I feel running through a DC pump I have control over flow. I don’t know for sure, but feel that the bacterial population should largely be unaffected. Most of the bacterial population we need should be well established in the sand and rocks and not the water column. Of course any bacterial population in the water column will be affected by a UV, but that should also help to prevent a water column bacterial bloom. I think they work great for water clarity, and pest algae and parasite reduction. I’m also a proponent of dosing probiotic strains occasionally into the system. So that could off set that problem too. I have a buddy that was having a ton of problems. Lost a bunch of corals and a few fish. His water was beginning to become very cloudy. Put his UV back online and things really have turned a corner. Corals are bouncing back and water is clear. Fish are thriving. Completely anecdotal, but still.
 

LegendaryCG

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I only run mine at night for a few hours to knock back some of the nastier stuff in the water column. Not attempting to kill every free floating cell, just limit stuff like dinos and cyano. Despite everything I’ve read about UV I’ve found great results with cheap in tank UV drop ins Like the 24w green killing machine.
 

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