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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

September 30, 2012

UV Sterilizers for Aquariums and Ponds

By David Lass


Ultraviolet (UV) sterilizers are one of the most misunderstood—and under-utilized—products in our industry. For some reason, hobbyists (and some store owners) do not know how useful this product can be. Also, I think there is some apprehension on the basis of both groups about the “dangers” of UV sterilizers. The only danger from UVs is if you look into a UV lamp while it is on, and it is pretty difficult to do this with any of the products used for aquariums. There are certain applications where UVs are the best, actually perhaps only, solution to a problem.

In marine tanks, UVs have become very popular and in reef tanks they are considered a necessity. Since marine organisms, especially invertebrates, do not react very well to chemicals, dyes and metals used to control parasites and bacteria, UV sterilizers are the best product for that purpose. UV only kills parasites, bacteria and spores that pass by the light in the water stream, but since most of the nasties that attack marine fish have a portion of their life cycle where they are free-swimming, UV will address the problem in that stage. Also, most distributors use heavy UV in keeping their marine animals and many stores do, too. Therefore, it is a worthwhile effort to explain to hobbyists that they also should be using UV since the fish they buy are used to it.

Outside pond
In ponds, UVs are also often recommended and most of the canister-type pond filters have UVs built right in or as an option. My outside pond, which is about 3,000 gallons, was never really crystal clear until I started using a filter with a UV in it. On my indoor pond (300 gallons) I have the UV set to come on for a few hours each day, and that seems to work well. From both instances, I have become a believer that every pond should have UV.

Green water is a problem that usually comes from poor aquarium husbandry—too much light and too much food. If the hobbyist can learn the correct amounts of each, green water can usually be prevented. However, there are some instances where the only thing that will clear green water in an aquarium is the use of a UV sterilizer. Some stores have a rental program for UVs, where they take a deposit for the full sale price of a unit, and rent it out for a few days or a week, with the rental applied to the purchase price if the customer decides to keep the UV. One store I know that does this has customers buy the UV in more than half of the cases.

Many filters, especially canister filters, are now available with UVs built right in, as are most pond filters. I have also seen some protein skimmer with UVs built in, but these do not seem to be that popular. However your customers use them, UV sterilizers will improve the health of their aquariums. You need to remind your customers that they need to replace UV lamps on a regular basis, at least once a year and sometimes more often.

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