What Can a UV Sterilizer Do?
A uv sterilizer is an easy way to kill germs. It can sanitize your phone, toothbrush, keys and more.
It uses UV light to destroy microorganisms by breaking down their chemical bonds and scrambling their DNA. This leaves them unable to reproduce, rendering them dead. This is called ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI). It works best when the water has no particles or turbidity, which can shield microorganisms from the light.
Using the same germicidal rays that are found in sunlight (but hundreds of times stronger), UV sterilizers disinfect water and other opaque liquids, hard surfaces and air. This is a chemical-free process that leaves no chemical residue behind, making it ideal for use on sensitive equipment and foodstuffs.
The uv sterilizer slowly passes aquarium water over a special electric light bulb that emits an invisible, high-energy type of radiation called ultraviolet (UV). This type of radiation damages the DNA of bacteria and other microorganisms by breaking down their nucleic acids, causing them to malfunction and not be able to reproduce, thus limiting their growth and shortening their life cycles. UV sterilizers also kill parasites and viruses, but only if they are free-swimming at the time of exposure. Since beneficial bacteria grow on the glass, rocks, sand and filter media of your aquarium, they will not be affected by a uv sterilizer.
UV sterilizers will not damage algae, as long as they are not newly cycled. It will, however, harm green slime-forming algae that have become established in your aquarium’s substrate or filters. This is a common problem in new aquariums that haven’t had the chance to fully cycle.
When properly used, a uv sterilizer will kill free-swimming algae and reduce the spread of nuisance algae like cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates in an aquarium. However, a UV does not magically cure algae blooms that have already taken hold of rocks, substrate, decorations or other items in the tank. It also does not eradicate parasites or diseases that are affecting fish. A good mechanical and biological filter still needs to be uv sterilizer in place as well as some manual scrubbing of the gravel/sand/rocks to get rid of any problematic growths that can’t be killed by the light.
The effectiveness of a uv sterilizer is dependent on the strength of the bulb, contact time and turnover rate. A weak bulb will have a hard time killing algae, and one with a short contact time may not do the job at all. A sterilizer with a longer bulb will expose microorganisms to UV radiation for a greater amount of time, killing them more thoroughly.
Since algae contribute so much to the turbidity of an aquarium, killing it with UV uv sterilizer dramatically improves water clarity. Combined with a good biological and mechanical filter, it will turn your murky greenish aquarium into a crystal clear masterpiece! Depending on how bad your aquarium is, you might need to run the uv sterilizer for several weeks before you can see results.
A properly tuned UV sterilizer can help fight parasites. The UV rays bombard the DNA of a protozoa, killing them and rendering them unable to reproduce and spread disease. This is because the UV rays break down certain chemical bonds in the cell’s DNA and scramble the double-helix structure of the protein, preventing the organism from reproducing.
In some cases, this is enough to completely eradicate the organism. For example, a recent article showed that irradiating dinoflagellates (the hardy, persistent strain of algae commonly found in saltwater aquariums) with the correct wattage of UV sterilizer was able to quickly and effectively knock them out of the tank. This was the first time a Dinoflagellate had been successfully eradicated using this method and it is one of several reasons why we believe that proper UV sterilization should be used in all saltwater and reef tanks.
However, you must keep in mind that a UV sterilizer will not cure ich or any other parasitic disease that affects fish. It will, however, reduce the outbreak and make it easier to treat with medication. It also works well for preventing disease by helping to maintain an even and balanced Redox Potential. This is why it is important to use a high dwell time ‘TRUE’ UV sterilizer when working with new fish and for overall disease prevention in aquariums and ponds.
Kills Other Microorganisms
When UV light passes through the water, it causes it to scatter. It also damages the DNA of microorganisms, making it unable to replicate or spread disease. This happens when UV photons hit a DNA molecule, causing it to form pyrimidine dimers in which two adjacent thymine and cytosine bases bond together instead of across the normal double helix. This makes the organism unable to function properly, and it will die or no longer be able to reproduce.
This is why a UV sterilizer will help keep your aquarium clear and free of algae, parasites, and other unwanted microorganisms that affect the quality and health of your fish. It can’t kill these microorganisms once they’re attached to your fish, but it will prevent them from forming in the first place.
It should be noted that not all UV sterilizers are created equal. The best ones have a long bulb that provides plenty of contact time, and they’re designed to circulate the water. They’re even rated to withstand the heat of the pump.
Portable UV sanitizing wands can be used anywhere and are often marketed to travelers worried about hotel room sanitation. They claim to kill bacteria and spore-forming germs within seconds. The truth is that they don’t work as well as a fully-installed aquarium UV sterilizer. This is because the turbidity of the water can give bacteria something to hide behind and not expose to UV light.