Fish keepers and aquarists alike know that a healthy aquarium is one with clean water. The easiest way to ensure this is by using a UV sterilizer, which kills any bacteria or microorganisms in the water before it reaches your fish.
However, there are many different types of UV sterilizers on the market with different features and prices – so how do you find the best one for you? Read on for some great tips!
This article will also cover reviews of the best UV sterilizer for aquariums available today, as well as their pros and cons. Hopefully, this will make your task easier while buying an aquarium sterilizer.
Best UV Sterilizer For Aquarium: Reviewed
1. Coralife Turbo-Twist Ultraviolet Sterilizer
Coralife Turbo-Twist Ultraviolet Sterilizer is a powerful sterilizer that can be used on both Saltwater & Freshwater aquariums.
This powerful UV sterilizer can destroy all the unwanted free-floating algae and bacteria in your aquarium. It will eliminate their existence and production cycle, leaving you worry-free about harmful substances.
It has a twist flow design that ensures better efficiency. The sterilizer has an indicator light to notify the current operation. The twist flow design ensures increased UV exposure to the water, besides providing more optimized water flow that will go through the sterilizer.
Coralife Turbo Twist Ultraviolet Sterilizer comes with 3 years of warranty. It is suitable for mid & large aquariums and recommended for aquariums consisting of 250 or fewer gallons of water.
A water pump is needed to operate this UV sterilizer, but that’s not included; you have to buy it separately.
- Powerful UV sterilizer, suitable for mid & large aquariums.
- Twist Flow Design makes it efficient.
- You can use it both in saltwater & freshwater tank.
- Indicator Light to notify while it’s running.
- Doesn’t come up with a water pump.
2. Aqua UV 15W Inline UV Sterilizer For Aquarium
The Advantage 2000+ 15 watts Aqua UV sterilizer can be used for both fresh and saltwater aquariums. This powerful UV sterilizer is the premium choice for 200-500 gallons of fresh water and up to 75 gallons of the saltwater tank.
It has a slim profile and is very lightweight, allowing it to fit in most tanks. It also comes with a high-quality UV light that helps to prevent the growth of algae, viruses, and protozoa.
The unit is designed to be easy to use and maintain, making it perfect for beginners as well as advanced aquarists.
You can use it in-line with a canister filter but make sure you have the necessary connections before you start. If you don’t use a canister filter, you need to buy a pump separately to run the sterilizer unit.
I highly recommend this USA-origin sterilizer! This in-line UV sterilizer for the aquarium will help you keep your tank clean and free from harmful bacteria, keeping your fish healthy and happy.
- Suitable for all small to large size aquariums.
- Lightweight, hang on sterilizer.
- Powerful UV sterilization.
- Works superbly on both Freshwater and Reef tanks.
- Manufactured in the USA.
- It can be used in line with a canister filter.
- The pump is not included.
3. SunSun JUP 01 9W – Best UV Sterilizer For 55 Gallon Aquarium
The SunSun JUP-01 9W UV Sterilizer is the perfect choice for your aquarium. It helps to stop the mass production of floating algae, microorganisms growth, reduce disease transmission and make the water healthier for your fish.
It features a built-in pump, ready to install; therefore, no additional tubing or circulation pump is required. It’s Compact and versatile and provides effective ultraviolet sterilization. It can be installed both horizontally & vertically and perform on both saltwater & freshwater.
The SunSun JUP-01 9W UV Sterilizer is simple but effective and an ideal choice for small size aquariums. You can use it in your freshwater tanks up to 75 gallons and salt water up to 30.
The product is one of the least pricey on my list; however, it does an excellent job at water clarification. Its removable pre-filter sponge captures debris and reduces turbidity to enhance UV exposure.
- Suitable for small size aquariums.
- Built-in pump.
- Efficient UV sterilization.
- It can be mounted both horizontally & vertically.
- Work both on Saltwater & Freshwater.
- A pre-filter sponge removes debris and enhances UV exposure.
- It can’t be used in larger tanks.
4. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine Internal Submersible UV Sterilizer
The AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine is a compact, highly efficient, internal UV sterilizer that will keep your aquarium water pristine and free of green water. It can treat tanks ranging from 55-120 Gallons and is suitable for freshwater and marine aquarium setup.
This AA green killing machine is an entirely submersible unit that controls bacteria, yeast, molds, and other pathogens. Its internal design allows you to easily keep it hidden out of sight behind tank ornaments.
The water circulates over the UV light in a zig-zag pattern, allowing for more contact with the light. As a result, it can reduce even murky algae tanks into an environment where fish are safe from such harmful causes of sickness or death.
The AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine features a powerhead and an LED indicator light that signals UV bulb replacement. UV bulbs last for 6 to 9 months in constant use. However, once your water is clear, you can set the UV on a timer to extend bulb life.
- A super effective UV Sterilizer.
- Includes a powerhead and offers 3 years of warranty.
- Easy to set it up in less than 10 minutes.
- LED indicator notifies when UV bulb needs replacement.
- Completely submersible, easy to hide.
- A pre-filter sponge is also added with the package.
- The sponge filter needs weekly cleaning so it can work well.
5. Fluval UVC in-Line Clarifier 3W Low Energy UV Sterilizer
Fluval UV sterilizer is a low-energy, energy-efficient way to sterilize the water in your aquarium. It uses advanced ultraviolet technology to destroy free-floating algae and bacteria. In addition, it redirects water flow around the UVC bulb to maximize contact time for effective clarification.
It helps keep your tank clear of green and cloudy water, which can be caused by poor filtration or overstocking. It also prevents the growth of cyanobacteria that smothers and destroys aquatic plants.
This powerful UV clarifier has a built-in 4-24 hour timer allowing you to use it intermittently according to the tank needs. In addition, because of CCFL (Cold Cathode Fluorescent Light) technology, UVC bulbs last longer. The UVC bulb has a service life of 6.85 years if it runs 12 hours a day.
Fluval UV sterilizer is an in-line clarifier that fits all Fluval 06 and 07 series. Also, you don’t need to buy anything additional to fit it; everything is included in the package.
However, suppose you have canister filters other than Fluval. In that case, you may require to modify the hose to install the sterilizer unit. It works perfectly in tanks from 10 to 100 Gallons and is suitable for use in all aquariums.
- Low energy consumption.
- Long-lasting UV lamp.
- Built-in timer.
- Includes everything to install in-line with canisters of 5/8 inch hose.
- Condensed design to maximize contact time.
- Designed to fit only in the smaller canister models.
6. YADICO Green Water Filter Machine
YADICO Green Water Filter Machine is a new product of YADICO. It is a green water filter machine that can kill the floating algae and make the water clear by using U-V light.
The machine only needs to be placed inside the tank, then it will start working automatically. It can be used for tanks up to 75 gallons (280L). The flow rate of the pump inside is 130 GPH (45L/H).
It will take about 3 -10 days to clear the green water. Once water gets cleared, cut the running time 4 to 8 hours a day to save energy and extend the UV bulb lifetime.
This machine has one extra function; it can produce air bubbles to increase oxygen in the fish tank, and the best part is it is controllable. It’s your choice whether to use it or not, but you have the option.
- Clear green water for nearly about 3 to 10 days.
- Suitable for tanks up to 75-gallons.
- Built-in pump.
- Energy-efficient UV light inside.
- Not suitable for larger tanks.
7. Emperor Aquatics Smart 25 Watt UV Sterilizer
The Emperor Aquatics Smart 25 Watt UV Sterilizer is a powerful sterilizer designed to work with aquariums up to 125 gallons. It features an energy-saving design, so it uses less electricity than other UV sterilizers on the market.
You can run at relatively high flow rates while still gaining effective sterilization, and the device remains effective even at 200+ gallons per hour! The three-inch body is relatively narrow, but you can be certain that no water will go untouched by the UV light because of its high wattage.
This model comes with a quartz-insulated chamber for use in cold water tanks, and it also has a super-long service life for added value. In addition, the bulb included with this unit is rated for up to 9,000 hours of use, which means you won’t need to replace the bulb often.
This sterilizer is super easy to use and maintain. The safe-to-operate UV sterilizer is constructed of thick, durable plastic that increases longevity. It’s excellent for both freshwater, ponds, and saltwater aquariums!
- Powerful and effective for tanks up to 125 gallons.
- Suitable to use in freshwater, pond, and saltwater aquariums.
- Durable and has a long service lifespan.
- Comes with a Quartz sleeve, a good choice for cold water tanks.
- Fittings and mounting brackets are not included.
- Relatively pricey.
8. Aqua Ultraviolet AAV00035 25-watt UV Sterilizer with Wiper for Aquarium, 2-Inch, Black
Aqua Ultraviolet’s AAV00035 is the best dual UV Sterilizer for both saltwater and freshwater environments.
The Aqua Ultraviolet sterilizer uses powerful and efficient lamps to kill bacteria, viruses, algae spores, and other microorganisms that cause fish diseases. This 25-watt UV Sterilizer can clean and sterilize up to 1200 gallons of fresh water and 250 gallons of saltwater easily in 3 days.
The Quartz Sleeve of this sterilizer ensures the highest percent of bacteria removal around UV light. In addition, it features a wiper mechanism; using wiper operation weekly will ensure a clean quartz sleeve.
This product comes with a one-year warranty from the date of buying or 18 months after manufacture. In addition, the manufacturer provides excellent customer support, and replacement bulbs and parts are easy to source.
If you are looking for a premium sterilizer for large setups, this one is the one. However, it’s costly and unsuited to small aquatic setups. Additionally, the high-quality and powerful pump that can push water at the high flow rate necessary must be purchased separately.
- The best UV Sterilizer for large setups.
- The longest lamp lifespan is worth 14 months.
- Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater setup.
- It can clean and sterilize up to 1200 gallons in 3 days.
- One-year warranty.
9. COODIA Internal Green Water Killer
COODIA Internal Green Water Killer is one of the best products to kill green water inside your aquarium. Coodia UV sterilizer uses advanced technology to provide UV radiation, which can effectively kill green water algae.
With a built-in pump, it’s easy for installation and operation. Moreover, it can be installed horizontally or vertically according to your preferences.
The sterilizer can be used on both saltwater and freshwater aquariums to ultimately stop the production of any free-floating algae out of your aquarium. Besides, this ultraviolet lamp is so efficient that it can rescue your aquarium from all kinds of harmful bacteria and viruses.
The UV sterilizer is perfect for people who own aquariums under 75 gallons. The light emits 05 watts of energy to ensure it’s completely clear of microbes and bacteria.
- Ideal for small & mid-size aquariums.
- Powerful UV sterilization.
- Built-In Pump, no need to spend extra money.
- It can be mounted both Horizontally & Vertically.
- It performs on both saltwater & freshwater.
- Not suitable for large tanks.
What Are UV Sterilizers and How They Function?
The UV sterilizer is a filtration unit that uses an ultraviolet lamp to emit light at a wavelength of 254 nm. Water passes through the unit, where it then comes into contact with this specific wavelength of light which damages algae, parasites, and bacteria’s DNA preventing them from growing or reproducing.
The UV bulbs remain enclosed in a protective casing. There are different sterilizers; you can install them in-line with a canister filter or at the outlet of a pump. In addition, some sterilizers are submersible consist of a pump and UV lamp.
However, whatever the type, the basic mechanism is the same. Water has to push through the UV chamber to get sterilized.
Depending on the wattage of the bulb, length of time water being exposed to UV light, and some other factors, single-celled organisms such as algae or parasites are potentially killed by radiation.
Damaged cells are unable to reproduce, lowering chances for an outbreak in a tank.
Are Aquarium UV Sterilizers Harmful to Fish or People?
Most of the concern about UV sterilizers is due to misinformation. The word “radiation” often causes alarm. These units use a bulb that produces short waves of ultraviolet-C (UVC) radiation!
Yes, UVC radiation is harmful, but only in direct exposure. UVC radiation can cause severe burns of the skin and eye injuries. Since it is never a good idea to look directly into a light source, even briefly. You shouldn’t handle the bare bulb when the light is on.
So, then is it also dangerous for the fish? No, not at all, because UV lamps are usually enclosed in a quartz chamber. The UVC rays can’t travel through the protective casing and won’t hurt your fish or people around your tank.
Moreover, your fish aren’t getting exposed directly to UV light, but the bacteria, viruses, and parasites are! Therefore, a UV sterilizer without casing could be harmful to your fish, but it’s safe to use as long as it has been retained in a closed chamber.
Do UV Sterilizers Kill the Good Aquarium Bacteria?
While UV sterilizers can kill any cells that pass through, including good bacteria in your water column. However, the majority of helpful bacteria in your tank live in your substrate or biofilters. Therefore, it won’t do any harm to the bacteria colonies. But, if you’re cycling a new tank, you should avoid using them to keep all those beneficial guys alive!
Choosing Your UV Sterilizer
What Sterilization Level Do You Need?
In order to get the best UV sterilizer for your fish tank or pond, you need to know what a unit can achieve in terms of sterilization. I’ll break down these categories into three uses:
- Clarifying Sterilizer (Green water clarification)
- Level 1 Sterilization (Bacteria and light parasite sterilization)
- Level 2 Sterilization (Heavy sterilization)
If you’re looking to clear up algae outbreaks and prevent them from recurring, inexpensive clarifying filters are the way to go.
Even if they advertise themselves as UV sterilizers, budget models can only clean the green water, but they can’t do anything for bacterial and parasite mitigation.
These sterilizers are usually hang-on or internal, making them easy to install and offer only a little dwell time.
Level 1 Sterilization
These units are capable of providing true sterilization. They have enough dwelling time to not only clarify water but can destroy harmful viruses and bacteria in your aquarium. In addition, it clears algae faster and better than clarifying systems.
The majority of the sterilizer falls in this category. Due to the longer residence period, these units are most suited for common fish tank usage, pond use, and marine tanks.
Level 2 Sterilization
Microscopic parasites, resistant viruses, and even types of attached algae can be killed by powerful UV sterilizers. In addition, these systems have the ideal dwell time without reducing flow rates, and they use stronger bulbs that last longer.
They are usually used in large-scale operations like public aquariums where a premium system is necessary to maintain healthy conditions for all inhabitants. However, they are expensive and typically aren’t common among hobbyists.
The capacity of UV light
The more wattage that a device has, the stronger its UV light and capacity. You need to choose your UV according to how big of an aquarium you have. If you have a bigger aquarium, you need higher wattage to get effective sterilization.
Flow rate is the most important thing when it comes to UV sterilization. It controls how long the organisms are exposed and their sensitivity to different wavelengths of light. If you want more exposure time, lower the flow rate; if less for some reason (e.g., they’ve already been in there too long), increase it!
The combination of wattage and flow rate determines how effective sterilization will be. Your UV sterilizer should be able to turn over your tank at least once per hour for it to work effectively.
Dwell Time (Contact period)
Dwell time is inversely proportional to the flow rate. Therefore, a high flow rate means less contact time. However, other factors such as the shape and size of the UV chamber, length, and diameter of the UV lamp can affect the dwell time.
This means that having the same wattage but the shorter UV light tube will not sterilize as effectively as its larger counterpart. Therefore, you should always consider how long your water is exposed in relation to its wattage and flow rates when choosing between two or more UV sterilizers of similar quality.
UV transmittance is measured on a 0-100% scale, where 100% means no obstruction and 0% implies UV light is not transmitting from the light itself. Some factors such as water turbidity, cloudiness, and cleanliness of the water affect the UV transmittance.
If you want to keep your water clean and increase the UV transmittance, then it is best that you install a mechanical filter near the intake of the sterilizer. This will help reduce turbidity in your tank, which can negatively impact how well light passes through.
This may be a good time to improve your UV system if it is no longer keeping the water clean. However, you will need more capacity from your new light, and you’ll have to leave it on for an extended period as well.
Generally, saltwater tanks have higher turbidity, and UV light can’t penetrate deep. Therefore, sterilizers meant only for freshwater may not be powerful enough to have an effect, so double-check the specs before buying for the saltwater tank!
What types of sterilizers suit your need?
Sterilizers are of different types depending on how they are constructed. Typically there are three types, wet bulb, dry bulb, and tray.
Wet types are where the water comes into direct exposure, and in the dry bulb, the UV lamp is contained in a quartz sleeve. If you are interested in applying sterilizer in your cold water tank or pond, the quartz-covered dry bulb is usually best.
UV Sterilizers can also be categorized based on where to place them and installed. Evaluate your existing setup, and choose from any of below three types.
HOB and Canister UV Sterilizers
UV sterilizers are sometimes incorporated into an aquarium filter after the filter pads and media stages, usually in HOB, canister, or internal submersible filters. But the fact that HOB and Canister UV sterilizers can clarify your water, they aren’t particularly good at disinfecting an aquarium.
Internal and Submersible UV Sterilizers
Internal and Submersible UV sterilizers, which sit inside your tank, usually come with a powerhead or built-in pump to control your flow rates and do good jobs at water clarification. However, the turbidity of water decreases their sterilizing ability because debris in the way blocks light from reaching organisms in contact. Better versions have pre-filters that remove this debris before it reaches internal lights yields better results.
In-line UV Sterilizers
In-line UV sterilizers give you the flexibility to install directly into your existing filtration system, usually right before the water returns to the tank. However, they can only be installed in-line with a canister filter. You will need to carefully check the diameter and dimension. Sometimes this may require modifying your hose to fit it properly.
In-line UV sterilizers are the most flexible and effective style because they can be set up for level 1 or 2 sterilization. And, of course, you can also adjust their placement to maximize your tank’s circulation too!
The investment in the best UV sterilizer for aquariums is the perfect way to prevent algae blooms and disease outbreaks. By investing, you can improve the water quality and health of your fish! In addition, the device will help clarify murky waters by eliminating harmful bacteria that often cause such issues within aquatic ecosystems.
If you need to learn more about UV sterilizers, I’ve got your back. I’ll answer all the questions that have been plaguing you and help you find a model that will meet your needs and budget. Comment below if there’s anything else I can assist with!