If you ask me whether UV sterilizer is a ‘must have’ item for your aquarium then I would probably say no.
But does it have benefits and perks?
Certainly yes, if you select it properly!
In fact, finding the best UV sterilizer for fish tank can be a bit intimidating for you if you aren’t sure about the key technical and operational features a standard UV sterilizer offers.
Aquarium UV sterilizers are generally powered by an UV bulb that has the ability to eliminate and rescue your aquarium from all kinds of harmful bacteria & microorganisms.
Benefits of Using UV Sterilizer in Your Aquarium
Now, you’re going to learn about three of the amazing benefits of keeping UV sterilizers inside your aquarium:
Eliminate Harmful Microorganisms:
An aquarium UV sterilizer has the ability to destroy all potential bacteria and microorganisms like algae spores out of your aquarium. Biological or mechanical filtration cannot thoroughly purify your aquarium from these harmful bacteria, virus and pathogens. But in this case, a UV sterilizer can efficiently destroy all of those harmful organisms out of your tank water.
Keep the Water Clean and Transparent:
Sometimes the water inside your aquarium becomes green and significantly reduces its transparency and cleanliness. This happens due to the unwanted algae bloom in the tank. In that case, an aquarium UV sterilizer can remove this cloudy condition and make your aquarium water absolutely crystal clear within a short period of time. It reduces the frequency of water changes as well.
Stops Production of Free Floating Algae:
One of the most struggling issues for keeping an aquarium is dealing with mass production of free floating algae. Oftentimes after wiping out their existence, they keep producing on the water and make it harder for you to frequently remove their existence. In that case, UV sterilizers can ultimately stop their production cycle and make your aquarium completely free from any potential algae in the future.
Now, you have got an extensive idea about the irresistible benefits of keeping a UV sterilizer inside your aquarium.
We are now going to learn about some of the best aquarium UV sterilizers that are currently available on the market. So let’s begin:
Top 5 Best UV Sterilizers (Side by Side Comparison)
10 Best Aquarium UV Sterilizer Reviews
It is simply not practical to declare one as the best aquarium uv sterilizer. Because aquarium uv sterilizers come with different capacity and flow rate. Here we have compiled 10 UV sterilizers that are tested and proven for many years by aquarists and fish keepers.
1. Coralife Turbo Twist: Best UV Sterilizer for Reef Tank
This Coralife Turbo Twist UV sterilizer made by Coralife is ideal for most mid and large size aquariums. It has been superbly designed to effectively carry out its duty of effectively fighting against harmful substances inside your fish tank. Besides, you’ll be able to use this device on both freshwater and saltwater or reef tanks that makes it versatile to use. Let’s explore all the features offered by this aquarium UV sterilizer:
- Capacity: This UV sterilizer is suitable for aquariums consisting of 250 or fewer gallons of water. If you own a mid or large size aquarium, this sterilizer can be the best option for you.
- Core Functionality: This powerful UV sterilizer has been designed to effectively rescue your aquarium from all kinds of unwanted free floating algae and bacteria by eliminating their existence and production cycle. You will be worry-free about its efficiency over destroying harmful substances out of your aquarium.
- UV Capacity (Turbo Twist): The UV sterilizer has been designed with a twist flow technology that ensures powerful ultraviolet light against potential bacteria to effectively eliminate them. Besides, this will provide more optimized water flow that will go through the sterilizer. The twist flow design ensures increased UV exposure to the water.
- Flexibility: You can use this ultraviolet sterilizer on both freshwater and reef tanks.
- Unique Features: You will get an indicator light with the sterilizer that will let you notify the whole time while it is operating.
2. Aqua UV 15W – Best Inline UV Sterilizer For Aquarium
The Aqua 15 watt is a powerful UV sterilizer that has been manufactured in the United States. If you don’t want to compromise with the efficiency of an ultraviolet light inside your aquarium, this device can be the ultimate option for you. Not-to-mention, the aquarium UV sterilizer is also versatile & can be used on both freshwater and saltwater condition. Let’s learn about all the features offered by this device:
- Capacity: This UV sterilizer is ideal for aquariums up to 75 gallons of water. Besides, you can also install the device on most small and mid-size aquariums that have fresh water in it.
- Core Functionality: The sterilizer is superbly lightweight and slim that helps it to provide the highest potential ultraviolet light inside your aquarium. In addition, this can be easily installed on most of the aquariums out there.
- UV Capacity: The UV light inside the sterilizer has an impressive capability to filter all your tank water within 5 days or less and, therefore, keep your aquarium free from all kinds of viruses, bacteria, and algae (free floating).
- Flexibility: The Aqua UV sterilizer can be used on both saltwater and freshwater condition. However, in the case of freshwater, you can place it on larger fish tanks consisting of water more than 75 gallons.
- Unique Features: The amazing part is, the device has been manufactured inside the United States which ensures it’s quality and durability than in the case of Chinese Ones.
3. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine 9 Watt – Best UV Sterilizer For Planted Aquarium
AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine is one of the best UV sterilizers out there in the market. As the name suggests, this powerful device is undoubtedly a killing machine for all the potential green substances that frequently produce inside your fish tank. This device has the capability to wipe out their existence and make the water crystal clear within a short period of time. In addition, this UV sterilizer also comes with a 50 GPH pump with an LED signal feature to meet your every requirement. Let’s explore all the features offered by this particular:
- Capacity: The UV sterilizer is ideal for aquariums that consist of 50 or fewer gallons of water inside it. The sterilizer is undoubtedly ideal for any small aquarium out there.
- Core Functionality: The sterilizer is powered by a 50 GPH pump that can be installed inside any part of your aquarium. The water flow has been reduced with a certain rate to ensure highest sterilizing performance inside your aquarium. Besides, the sterilizer is powered by an amazing GKM system that can make the aquarium water completely transparent and clean.
- UV Capacity: The ultraviolet light inside the sterilizer can effectively eliminate all the harmful bacteria, free floating algae and viruses out of your aquarium. Besides, it has the capability to ultimately stop the production of any microorganism inside your aquarium.
- Flexibility: You can use this UV sterilizer on both freshwater and saltwater condition.
- Warranty: The device comes with 3-years of service warranty from the manufacturer.
- Additional Accessories: You will get one 50 GPH pump and 4 sponge filters with the sterilizer.
- Unique Features: The sterilizer comes with an easy-to-install feature that can be performed within 10 minutes. Besides, there will be LED signals that will notify you during the appropriate time to replace your bulb.
4. COODIA Internal Green Water Killer – Best Internal UV Sterilizer
If you own a mid or large size aquarium inside your home, this powerful device can be the ideal option for you. The sterilizer comes with a built-in pump to provide constant water flow through the device and features an easy to installing function to ease up your overall duty over installing the sterilizer. Let’s learn about all the features offered by this particular:
- Capacity: The UV sterilizer is ideal for aquariums consisting of less than 75 gallons tank. You can install it on any mid-size aquariums out there.
- Core Functionality: The sterilizer is powered by a 13 watt ultraviolet light to ensure consistent water flow inside it. Besides, the device is completely easy to install and requires no extra tubing or pump to efficiently perform its operation.
- UV Capacity: The UV light inside the sterilizer can ultimately stop the production of any free floating algae out of your aquarium. Besides, the ultraviolet lamp is so efficient that it can rescue your aquarium from all kinds of harmful bacteria, and viruses.
- Flexibility: The sterilizer can be placed both horizontally or vertically inside your aquarium. Besides, you can use it on both saltwater and freshwater condition.
- Unique Features: The sterilizer also comes with a built-in pump with UV ballast and C-Lamp.
5. SunSun JUP 01 9W – Best UV Sterilizer For 55 Gallon Aquarium
Now, this sunsun jup 01 9w UV sterilizer manufactured by SunSun is also an ideal option for all the small aquariums out there. The sterilizer features a powerful 9 watt UV light to effectively eliminate all the potentially harmful bacteria, pathogens and viruses out of your fish tank. In addition, the sterilizer is also versatile that enables you to install it both horizontally and vertically without concerning about the water condition. Let’s explore all the features offered by this sterilizer:
- Capacity: The sunsun jup 01 9w UV sterilizer is best-suited for all small size fish tanks that consist of less than 75 gallons of water.
- Core Functionality: This easy-to-install sterilizer features powerful ultraviolet filtering inside your aquarium. Similar to the previous one this UV sterilizer requires no extra tubing and can be used to efficiently perform against harmful substances inside your fish tank.
- UV Capacity: This sunsun jup 01 9w UV sterilizer features a powerful ultraviolet bulb that can easily eliminate all sorts of harmful bacteria and viruses out of your aquarium. Besides, it also significantly helps to stop the mass production of floating algae out of your aquarium and make it ultimately free from all kinds of microorganisms that can make the water unhealthy for your fish.
- Flexibility: You can install the sterilizer both horizontally vertically inside your aquarium. Not-to-mention, it can efficiently perform on both saltwater and freshwater condition.
- Unique Features: Like the previous version, this sterilizer also comes with a built-in pump with UV ballast and C-Lamp.
6. Green Killing Machine 24W: Best UV sterilizer with built-in Power Head
- Capacity: Can treat tanks ranging from 55-120 Gallons regardless of its size and can easily be hidden out of sight behind tank ornaments.
- Core Function: This AA green killing machine is completely submersible unit controls bacteria, yeast and molds, as well as other pathogens that can be harmful to your fish. Water is circulated over the UV light in a zig zag pattern further allowing the light to come in contact with the water. It can reduce even the murkiest of green algae ridden tanks- into a clean and clear environment for your fish.
- UV Capacity: This UV light is truly one-of-a-kind with a Patented and sealed UV Bulb. The UV power is ranked at 254mn and offers a No Gloves – No Mess EZ bulb change.
- Flexibility: This unique feature design allows for the unit to be used in both Saltwater and Fresh water environments.
- Warranty: Green Killing Machine comes with a 3 year warranty on the water pump offered by AA Aquarium.
- Unique Features: Can be set-up in your aquarium in no more than 10 minutes and attaches with suction cups to secure the pump to the tank glass easily enough. The control box even has an indicator light that lets you know when to change the UV bulb.
7. Aqua Ultraviolet 25 Watt – Best UV Sterilizer For Saltwater Aquarium
- Capacity: Designed to work within 1200 gallons of fresh water or up to 250 Gallons of Saltwater aquariums with an easy to install design.
- Core Function: If you want a hard working UV sterilizer, the Aqua Ultraviolet 25 Watt UV Sterilizer model is rated for 14 months. Responsible for making sure that algae and bacteria never come back in your tank or pond.
- UV Capacity: This 25 Watt UV sterilizer works well but this selected model allows for a 57 Watt bulb to be inserted. Sadly you would need to get a new transformer to make that upgrade.
- Flexibility: Great for enthusiasts who want to put this in indoors or outdoors. Since the design allows for both Saltwater and Fresh Water, its dual ease is worth the investment.
- Warranty: Has a one year warranty from the date of purchase or 18 months after the manufacture date.
- Unique Features – Quartz Sleeve: Besides including a 2 Inch Inlet and Outlet, the Quartz Sleeve ensures that UV transmission gives the highest percent of bacteria removal around your UV light.
8. AquaUltraviolet Advantage 2000+ Inline Barb – Best For 75 Gallon Aquarium
- Capacity: The ideal UV Sterilizer for small ponds, aquariums and other water environments.
- Core Function: A slim lightweight 15 Watt UV sterilizer that can clear up murky swampy looking water in 2-3 days.
- UV Capacity: Despite being a 15 Watt Bulb, it indeed is a powerhouse for smaller environments making it very effective.
- Flexibility: Can be placed anywhere you need it to be, but is suitable for up to 75 gallon tanks.
- Warranty: You’ll need to contact the company to validate any warranty on their products after purchase.
- Unique Features: Can easily be installed in 10 minutes and does come complete with power supply, UV tube and Housing. Perfect for all those smaller water enclosures!
9. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine 3 Watt Internal UV Sterilizer System with Power Head
- Capacity: An ideal UV Sterilizer for tanks no bigger than 20 gallons or smaller. Easy to install within minutes- for cleaner water instantly!
- Core Function: This nifty little unit will kill bacteria, yeast and mold, as well as other harmful pathogens that affect your fish. Water is circulated over the UV light in a zig zag pattern further allowing the light to come in contact with the water. Quickly sterilizes dingy water that is in your tank effectively and quickly.
- UV Capacity: This UV tube is specially Patented and is sealed within the tube. The UV power is ranked at 254mn and offers a No Gloves – No Mess EZ bulb change.
- Flexibility: Such a compact design allows small tanks up to 25 gallons to enjoy a UV Sterilizer.
- Warranty: Comes with a 3 Year Warranty
- Unique Features: Comes as a complete unit including pump and UV tube. EZ attach suction cups let you put this unit anywhere in the tank, safely attached to the glass within minutes. Can circulate up to 150 liters of water per hour- for maximum effectiveness!
10. AA Aquarium Clip-on UV Sterilizer 3 Watt Green Killing Machine
- Capacity: Another alternate version of the AA Aquarium UV Sterilizer mounted on a clip. Is can clean a fish tank up to 20 gallons.
- Core Function: By attaching this unit to any standard waterfall filter, it allows this mini 3 Watt UV LED to produce effective results. This unit is rather small, but kills bacteria and algae in your tank removing the hazy look from any small fish tanks.
- UV Capacity: This is a LED UV light and will last for 69 months if it’s in constant use. The control box has a build-in indicator light letting you know when it burns out.
- Flexibility: If you have a small aquarium, this unit works great for a waterfall filter system only. It works by killing bacteria that runs over the water column.
- Warranty: Once purchased you need to fill out the warranty paperwork
- Unique Features: Oddly enough, this UV sterilizer is also a niche product that works well if you read the installation instructions and clean the filter properly.
UV Clarifier Vs UV Sterilizer
The thing is both sterilizer or clarifier will have UV lights and that UV light is fundamentally same. The difference between a UV clarifier and a UV sterilizer is in two things –
- The wattage of the UV bulb
- The flow rate
There are basically 3 things that can be controlled using UV sterilizers –
- Algae spore (green water problem)
- Harmful bacteria/virus
To kill algae spore you don’t need much wattage and the exposure to the UV lights could be less. So a machine with low wattage UV and high flow rate (means exposure will be less) can kill algae and remove the green pigmentation of water. You can call it UV clarifier if you want.
On the other hand you need higher wattage and low flow rate to kill bacteria and parasite. So you can call it a UV sterilizer. So it’s your decision what you want.
Factors To Consider When Choosing UV Sterilizers
Capacity/Wattage of the UV light
More wattage means more UV light and more capacity of the device. You need to choose the UV according to the size of your aquarium. More concentrated UV lights are capable of destroying microorganisms like bacteria and virus.
Flow Rate of the Pump
Flow rate plays a vital role as it will control the exposure time. Flow rate is inversely proportional to the exposure. Lower the flow rate the more the organisms will be exposed to the UV light. On the other hand higher flow rate will decrease the exposure.
Dwell Time (Contact period)
Dwell time is the period during which the water is exposed to the UV light inside the sterilizer chamber. So dwell time depends on few other factors. The primary factor is flow rate as explained on the previous section. Also the shape & size of the sterilizer chamber, length of the UV bulb, diameter of the light effects the dwell time.
UV transmittance is a measure expressed in a scale of 0-100% and it indicates how well the UV light is transmitted trough the aquarium water. Turbidity or cloudiness of the tank water will have a negative impact on the UV transmittance. So it would be wise to incorporate a mechanical filtration near the intake of the UV sterilizer.
Keeping the tank water clean is vital for the effectiveness of your UV system. If the water is not clean enough you will need a higher capacity UV light along with longer exposure time to achieve the same result.
Low Pressure UV Light & Effect of Temperature
Low pressure mercury lamps usually have higher performance and effectiveness. However, they are sensitive to temperature. 104-110 degree F is the optimum temperature for producing UV light. Cooler temperature will result in less UV production.
Quartz sleeves are used to insulate the bulb from cooler temperature. As a result higher UV production is ensured. But if your tank is already in a higher temperature then quartz sleeve is not that effective. Also cleaning of it is not as easy as the bulb itself. This could result into lower transmittance.
Size & Type of The Organism
Larger organisms like protozoa require a higher amount of UV. On the other hand, a smaller organism like bacteria will require a lower amount of UV radiation to be inert. Apart from these some type of bacteria are more resistant to the UV radiation. But the good thing is that this UV light will not hamper the beneficial bacteria.
How To Install a UV Sterilizer Inside Your Aquarium
Most of the UV sterilizers come with an easy to installing feature. Besides, they also come with an instructional manual from the manufacturer that demonstrates how to properly install it on any fish tank. You can duly follow the guide to get familiar with the installing procedures. However, there are three common installing steps that go for most of the compact UV sterilizers out there. Let’s sequentially learn about them:
Determine the Place:
The fact is you can place the sterilizer on any point inside your aquarium. However, if you want to keep it hidden from the eyesight, you can place it behind an air stone or any of the four corners of your fish tank. This doesn’t reduce its efficiency as long as it is properly connected with a pump and gets a continuous power supply to run its operation.
Connect it with the Pump (or an external canister filter):
Most of the UV sterilizers come with a built-in pump to continually run its operation. If you have gone through our top-rated list of UV sterilizers for aquarium, you’ll see there are some UV sterilizers that do come with a built-in pump to run water flow through it. However, on the contrary, you will need to install a pump and connect it with the sterilizer to run it’s operation. If you already have an aquarium canister filter in place then you can simply connect the UV sterilizer with the inflow line of your filter. No pump is required for such case. If you are using the aquarium UV sterilizer with canister filters then you can place it outside the aquarium, but you should learn all the key instructions from the manual before doing that.
Enable the Power Supply:
The final part is to connect the power supply that will enable the sterilizer to begin its operation. Most of the aquarium UV sterilizers are very compact and power efficient. They require less electricity than the pond sterilizers that usually require more maintenance and power to run. But aquarium sterilizers are completely different from them. Most of them come with a plug and play feature that allows you to effortlessly install and run it without any technical knowledge.
Installing Aquarium UV Sterilizer with Your Canister Filter
As we have mentioned, the efficiency of your UV sterilizer will depend on the flow rate as well. Low flow rate means more exposure to the UV light and higher chances of killing bacteria or virus. But if you install the UV sterilizer with a canister filter then the flow rate (gallon per hour) will be the same of the filter. So, its your call how you wanna install it.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to choose the best UV sterilizer for my aquarium?
All the UV sterilizers come with a unique capacity attribute that denotes to the tank size or number of gallons aquarium in which it can efficiently perform. To choose your sterilizer, firstly you have to determine the approximate gallons of water inside your aquarium. Subsequently, you can look for the perfect sterilizer with the same capacity attribute and also consider whether the other features such as convenient installation or built-in pump comes with the UV sterilizer.
How does a UV sterilizer work?
UV sterilizers are powered by an UV light that eliminates all the bacteria and floating algae that passes through it. The power of the light depends on the wattage of the UV light. More watts denotes to more powerful UV light. Besides, they not only destroy all algae but also ultimately stop their production.
Is UV sterilizer safe?
UV sterilizers are completely safe for your home and aquarium. They remain submersed or out of the aquarium depending on installation and only stays there to prevent your aquarium from all sorts of harmful bacteria, viruses and algae spores that can become a health concern for your living fish. The UV light remains inside the UV sterilizers and direct eye contact is restricted for your safety and protection.
How much does a UV sterilizer cost?
The cost of your UV sterilizer will mostly depend upon the size of your fish tank. As we already know all the UV sterilizers come with a specific capacity that denotes to the efficiency of the UV light. UV Sterilizers that are made for larger size ponds may cost a bit higher than the smaller capacity UV sterilizers. To give you an example, a 75 gallons sterilizer can cost you around $35-$50 depending on the features and accessories comes with it.
Does UV sterilizer require any maintenance?
The exciting part is, UV sterilizers don’t require any extra maintenance after installation. However, the UV light has a runtime after which it has to be replaced by another one. If you have gone through our top-rated list of UV sterilizers, you’ll see one of them does come with an LED indicator that will notify you when it is the appropriate time to replace the UV bulb.
We believe our guide has been helpful for you to get extensive knowledge about some of the best UV sterilizers for aquarium. Besides, we have also provided you with some effective essential strategies and guides followed by some common FAQs to make the overall buying process convenient for you. Thanks for reading the whole post. Stay tuned with us for more info-guides like this. We appreciate your time.
Table of Contents
- Benefits of Using UV Sterilizer in Your Aquarium
- Top 5 Best UV Sterilizers (Side by Side Comparison)
- 10 Best Aquarium UV Sterilizer Reviews
- 1. Coralife Turbo Twist: Best UV Sterilizer for Reef Tank
- 2. Aqua UV 15W – Best Inline UV Sterilizer For Aquarium
- 3. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine 9 Watt – Best UV Sterilizer For Planted Aquarium
- 4. COODIA Internal Green Water Killer – Best Internal UV Sterilizer
- 5. SunSun JUP 01 9W – Best UV Sterilizer For 55 Gallon Aquarium
- 6. Green Killing Machine 24W: Best UV sterilizer with built-in Power Head
- 7. Aqua Ultraviolet 25 Watt – Best UV Sterilizer For Saltwater Aquarium
- 8. AquaUltraviolet Advantage 2000+ Inline Barb – Best For 75 Gallon Aquarium
- 9. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine 3 Watt Internal UV Sterilizer System with Power Head
- 10. AA Aquarium Clip-on UV Sterilizer 3 Watt Green Killing Machine
- UV Clarifier Vs UV Sterilizer
- Factors To Consider When Choosing UV Sterilizers
- How To Install a UV Sterilizer Inside Your Aquarium
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words