Ultra Violet or UV Steriliser are used fish tank aquariums to help remove unwanted free floating algae, parasites and bacteria from both freshwater and marine aquariums.
A UV (Ultra Violet) light will alter and disrupt the cellular structure of living cells found in algae and bacteria which effectively kills them off by preventing them from reproducing which will effectively remove them from your aquarium system. This is done in quite a simple manner by the UV filter as it will be part of where the water flows in your system and so all water will pass through it as some point. Many people will install these on the inlet to their filter if a sump or canister filter is being used. The system itself has a UV bulb in it which will shine on the water as it passes through.
It is important when choosing a UV steriliser that you get a unit specifically for the flow rate and aquarium size you are installing it on otherwise the available surface area will not be large enough to eradicate the unwanted bacteria and algae. It is also possible to get a canister filter with a UV steriliser built in to it which effectively takes away this concern as the manufacturers have optimised the UV filter size based on the flow rate of the filter it is attached to.
So, to work out whether you need a UV steriliser or not is something which you can normally tell from the visual water quality and fish behaviour.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms it might be worthwhile investing in a UV steriliser:
- Poor water quality – green water
- Algae blooms
- Parasite related fish diseases such as Ich
- Harmful bacteria present in the aquarium
It is more common to install a UV steriliser in a marine tank than a freshwater one, this is down to freshwater planted aquariums taking care of any bacteria or parasite issues and algae blooms by the plants themselves using up all available resources which these things would require to survive. It may be that you are keeping mbuna or other rift valley African cichlids which eat algae and so you want it to grow rather than killing it off.
Also worth noting is that the UV steriliser will not distinguish between beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria and will kill all types so if you are planning to use a UV steriliser in a marine tank and don’t wish to kill off any of the free floating beneficial planktonic animals like Amphipods and Copepods then you could always put the filter on a timer to only come on when the main lights are on as these beneficial bacteria tend to hide away in rocks during daylight hours. A UV steriliser may also have a negative or neutralising affect treatments you may add to your aquarium so be sure to switch it off if you are treating your fish with any chemicals.
The last thing to note is that a UV steriliser bulb would need to be replaced every 6 months so this is a cost consideration worth taking in to account if you are considering purchasing one. It can potentially be dangerous and should be noted that you must never look at the UV steriliser bulb when it is on as it can be very harmful to you!
In summary we believe that in a freshwater aquarium it is unlikely you would need a UV steriliser however it may be worth getting one. It is more likely you would need one in a marine aquarium although you must be careful when you decide to use it and be sure to pick the correct model for your requirements.
1 thought on “Do I Need a UV Steriliser On My Fish Tank Aquarium”
I couldnt disagree more about the need for UV I believe every tank should have good solid UV heres a few reasons why
Although not a well known process among many aquarists, with much misunderstanding of both sides of the equation by even some advanced aquarium keepers; the implications of Redox for a healthy aquarium are quite far reaching, and thus important for any aquarist considering moving from basic aquarium (or pond) keeping to advanced to understand.
As well, even the average aquarist should consider this water parameter when all other parameters check out, yet fish continue to be susceptible to disease. This may be an important parameter to consider as growing research in human disease resistance, and even plant growth also continues to show as research progresses.
However some in the aquarium keeping community still seem to be in the dark as per this growing documented research.
Redox, also known as Redox Potential, oxidation potential, & ORP (oxidation reduction potential) describes the ability for the loss of an electron by a molecule, atom or ion to the gain of an electron by another molecule, atom or ion.
Without this ability to gain electrons, many minerals cannot be absorbed and properly assimilated, especially in times of stress.
So it is very important to keep a healthy Redox Balance via proper dissolved oxygen levels, proper positively charged mineral levels (such as Calcium and Magnesium), and even level 1 or higher UV Sterilization.
(Please click on the picture above/right to enlarge for a better view)
Many in the past have stated exact numbers are the "best" Redox reading for an aquarium. My research has found this to be incorrect.
In some aquariums, a higher Redox of 350 mV may be a good Redox to obtain (for oxidation) when high organics and decomposition is lowering water quality.
HOWEVER for a new or established aquarium that is properly functioning this is not a number you should be necessarily "shooting" for correct Redox balance, so please read on!.
*Oxidation describes the loss of an electron by a molecule, atom or ion.
Another way to look at this is to lose, or cause to lose, hydrogen atoms.
EXAMPLE: Redox processes such as the oxidation of carbon to yield carbon dioxide.
Oxidation is the LACK of electrons by a molecule.
Oxidation is when the molecule can accept electrons from a reduced molecule, thus oxidizing.
*Reduction describes the gain of an electron by a molecule, atom or ion.
Another way to look at this is remove oxygen atoms or add hydrogen atoms.
EXAMPLE: The reduction of carbon by hydrogen to yield methane (CH4).
Reduction is the GAIN of electrons by a molecule.
Reduction is when a molecule can give positive electrons to an oxidized molecule, thus ceasing the oxidation of the molecule.
Another example: Calcium (Ca2+) or Magnesium (Mg2+) which initially are composed of two positively charged ions immersed in a sea of movable electrons may have given up all possible electrons to cells/molecules under oxidation.
It is for this reason, then that positively charged calcium and magnesium supplies must be constantly renewed; without this “fresh” positively charged calcium, etc. your Redox balance will suffer.
Think of it this way; a battery "works" only when a positive and a negative electrode are present to maintain an electrical current. When the positive plates become exhausted, the battery is no longer functional, even though the metal plates and other "ingredients" for the battery are still present.
So it is that your GH or Calcium Test may show adequate minerals, but these minerals have been oxidized and thus rendering the test inaccurate as per ESSENTIAL positively charged calcium ions. This why it is folly to attempt to drive down GH to very low levels in a misguided attempt to replicate certain environmental biotopes based on old school opinions of GH.
The above are over simplifications of the process, so please read on as I will go into further depth as the article progresses, especially as Redox relates to aquatic health.
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