7 Best UV Sterilizer Aquariums for Freshwater and Saltwater
Anyone with an aquarium knows how important filtration is to keep the system clean. However, there is one thing that aquarium filters cannot get rid of and that is microorganisms.
These very small creatures usually give the water a greenish color and occur as a result of external factors such as contaminated water and decomposing the fish food on the tank bed.
The only way to deal with them is by using a UV sterilizer, which is basically a UV light bulb. If you are looking for such a product, this article looks at the best UV aquarium sterilizers to consider buying.
- 7 Best UV Sterilizer Aquariums – Reviews
- 1. Aqua Ultraviolet A00337 – Best Overall UV Sterilizer
- 2. AA Aquarium AAUV9W – UV Sterilizer with a Sponge Filter
- 3. SunSun JUP-01 – Best Budget UV Sterilizer
- 4. AquaTop UVCP-13 – Best UV Sterilizer for Large Aquariums
- 5. SunSun JUP-23 – Adjustable UV Aquarium Sterilizer
- 6. AquaTop IL10-UV – Best UV Sterilizer for Small Tanks
- 7. Coralife 77070 – UV Sterilizer with a Twist Flow Design
- How to Buy the Best UV Aquarium Sterilizers
7 Best UV Sterilizer Aquariums – Reviews
1. Aqua Ultraviolet A00337 (Best Overall UV Sterilizer)
2. AA Aquarium AAUV9W (UV Sterilizer with a Sponge Filter)
3. SunSun JUP-01 (Best Budget UV Sterilizer)
4. AquaTop UVCP-13 (Best UV Sterilizer for Large Aquariums)
5. SunSun JUP-23 (Adjustable UV Aquarium Sterilizer)
6. AquaTop IL10-UV (Best UV Sterilizer for Small Tanks)
7. Coralife 77070 (UV Sterilizer with a Twist Flow Design)
1. Aqua Ultraviolet A00337
(Best Overall UV Sterilizer)
2. AA Aquarium AAUV9W
(UV Sterilizer with a Sponge Filter)
3. SunSun JUP-01
(Best Budget UV Sterilizer)
4. AquaTop UVCP-13
(Best UV Sterilizer for Large Aquariums)
5. SunSun JUP-23
(Adjustable UV Aquarium Sterilizer)
6. AquaTop IL10-UV
(Best UV Sterilizer for Small Tanks)
7. Coralife 77070
(UV Sterilizer with a Twist Flow Design)
1. Aqua Ultraviolet A00337 – Best Overall UV Sterilizer
- Fits: Up to 1200 gallons
- Power: 25 Watts
- Flow rate: 1200 GPH
Though expensive, this product is the top-rated UV aquarium sterilizer in this review because of a couple of reasons. For starters, it has a powerful 25-watt UV bulb, which ensures that the water passing inside is thoroughly disinfected.
The product can also handle sterilizing in both freshwater and saltwater aquariums but in different capacities.
For freshwater, the product can handle up to a 1200-gallon tank at a flow rate of 1200 gallons per hour while for saltwater, it can only handle up to a 150-gallon tank at a flow rate of 400 gallons per hour.
In terms of installation, this sterilizer requires an in-line fitting and can either be installed as a separate unit or as an addition to a very powerful canister filter.
- Fits: Up to 50 gallons
- Power: 9 Watts
- Flow rate: 50 GPH
In addition to its sterilization function, AA Aquarium’s 9-watt unit features a premium sponge for filtration of dirt and debris, resulting in crystal, clear water that is perfect for the fish to grow.
Back to sterilization, this product's bulb emits a 254nm wavelength UV light that is very effective at eliminating the green cloudiness caused by bacteria, mold, yeast, and pathogens.
The sterilizer is run by a moderately fast pump that circulates the water at a rate of about 50 gallons per hour, but this speed is reduced by the zigzag flow within the UV bulb.
This slow movement ensures that the water is screened thoroughly as it passes through the UV filter for a more effective green killing process.
In terms of compatibility, this unit can effectively sterilize aquariums that do not exceed 50 gallons in capacity. It is also compatible with both tropical and saltwater fish tanks, which makes it quite versatile.
Installation and maintenance are also quite simplified due to the presence of suction cups for attaching to the aquarium wall and an LED replacement notification for showing whether the UV bulb requires replacement.
3. SunSun JUP-01 – Best Budget UV Sterilizer
- Fits: Up to 75 gallons
- Power: 9 Watts
- Flow rate: 210 GPH
SunSun’s JUP-01 is the most affordable UV sterilizer in this review but don’t think it is a low-quality product.
For starters, the product has a 9-watt UV bulb, which is very effective at eliminating harmful microorganisms and free-floating algae from the water.
A built-in pump circulates water through the sterilizer at a rate of 210 gallons per hour while a big pre-filter sponge captures the dirt and debris so as to increase the surface area of the water that the UV light can penetrate through.
Installation of the sterilizer is simplified by the use of suction cups, which make it possible to attach the unit to the aquarium wall. It can be installed in either a vertical or horizontal orientation and being submersible, it requires no tubing before use.
The unit can be used to treat fresh and saltwater aquariums, as well as ponds of up to 75 gallons in capacity. This means that you may need two or more of this product for large-sized fish tanks.
An important thing to note here is that the UV bulb is recommended to be changed every year so as to maintain optimum sterilization.
4. AquaTop UVCP-13 – Best UV Sterilizer for Large Aquariums
- Fits: Up to 2377 gallons
- Power: 13 Watts
- Flow rate: 528 GPH
AquaTop’s UVCP13 is the kind of UV sterilizer that you would want if you have a really big tank because it is designed to handle up to a 2377-gallon aquarium.
In order to handle such a big capacity, the unit has a powerful pump that circulates water at a rate of 528 gallons per hour. This is quite fast and makes it possible to circle through all the water in a 2377-gallon tank in less than 5 hours.
Additionally, a more powerful 13 watt UV light bulb is used so as to provide more microorganism killing power in the fast flowing water while a foam filter eliminates dirt and debris.
Apart from freshwater use, this power makes it one of the best aquarium UV sterilizer for reef tanks because these are usually big in size.
However, being a submersible unit, the strong motor might generate a lot of heat inside the tank while its lack of a mesh screen on the intake means that it can swallow small fish. With careful monitoring though, this won’t be a big problem.
5. SunSun JUP-23 – Adjustable UV Aquarium Sterilizer
- Fits: Up to 150 gallons
- Power: 13 Watts
- Flow rate: 211 GPH
Sun’s aquarium UV sterilizer is quite unique due to its adjustability feature. On the outlet, the water flow can be controlled using an adjustable flow regulating nozzle that this product comes with.
Most importantly, a round knob on the sterilizer’s body can be easily turned to adjust the flow rate, which reaches a maximum of 211 gallons per hour.
This makes it probably the best submersible aquarium UV sterilizer because, with an adjustability function, you can slow down the water flow inside for an extended exposure time to the UV light so as to kill more microorganisms in extremely cloudy waters.
Apart from this, the unit features a foam filter for clearing out dirt and debris before passing the water through a 13-watt UV bulb for killing the bacteria that cause the cloudiness.
A built-in 8-watt pump runs the entire system, giving the sterilizer a combined rating of 21 watts. This motor is strong enough to make the unit capable of handling up to a 150-gallon aquarium.
The only issue with this motor is that it is not very durable but a 30-day warranty will cover you at least for a few days.
6. AquaTop IL10-UV – Best UV Sterilizer for Small Tanks
- Power: 10 Watts
- Flow rate: 211 GPH
This aquarium sterilizer is designed for in-line use, which means it does not occupy space inside the aquarium and thus, can be used to sanitize water for the smallest of fish tanks.
However, the piece is not waterproof and thus, special care needs to be taken to ensure that it does not submerge into the water.
For installation, this unit does require some additional piping, but it is a perfect addition for traditional canister filters.
It can be simply attached to the piping coming out of such filters so as to sterilize the water before getting back to the tank. This makes its installation much easier.
Sterilization is done using a 10-watt UV bulb that produces UV-C light, which is also known as germicidal-grade UV light. An additional UV-C lamp is included as an accessory for replacement when the current one dies out.
7. Coralife 77070 – UV Sterilizer with a Twist Flow Design
- Fits: Up to 125 gallons
- Power: 9 Watts
Rounding up the list is Coralife's 77070 and it features a unique twist flow technology that ensures water flows evenly through the 9-watt sterilizer.
That said, the unit is an inline sterilizer and comes with mounting brackets for either hang-on or in-line installation.
Although the required piping is not included, these mounting brackets make it very easy to set up. It can also be hooked up to an external canister filter’s return lines for even easier installation.
The other feature is compatibility with fresh and saltwater aquariums but you don't get an adjustable flow rate.
How to Buy the Best UV Aquarium Sterilizers
Compatibility in UV sterilizers is mainly considered in terms of two things. First is the tank size and second is compatibility with salt or freshwater use.
For the tank size, it goes without saying that you should get a product that can comfortably work on the tank you have.
If you have a 100-gallon tank, ensure that the UV sterilizer you buy is rated at least for an up to 100-gallon aquarium such as Coralife's 77070.
For water type, most units can work on freshwater aquariums but not all are compatible with saltwater.
The best thing to do would be to buy a sterilizer that is compatible with both such as Aqua Ultraviolet's A00337 so that you won’t have to worry in case you switch aquariums in the future.
2. Types of UV Aquarium Sterilizer
Submersible: Submersible UV aquarium sterilizers like AquaTop's UVCP-13 are more like self-contained units that can do everything on their own.
They require no plumbing and have their own powerhead. The only thing they need is a connection to an external power outlet and that’s it.
However, they do occupy some space inside the tank, which might eat up into the scarce fish space available inside. For this reason, they are ideal to use in large tanks.
In-Line: In-line UV sterilizers such as AquaTop's IL10-UV are installed outside the tank, either independently with their own plumbing, or in connection with the return line of an external canister filter.
The good thing with this type is that it does consume any space inside the tank and thus, can have a large design for accommodating more features and are ideal for small aquariums.
However, this unit’s installation process is a bit complex because it requires some plumbing and mounting.
The power of a UV bulb is a critical factor to consider before buying any sterilizer. Basically, the higher the power rating like in Aqua Ultraviolet's A00337 the more effective the light is at killing microorganisms at the DNA level.
However, a high power UV bulb also consumes a lot of electricity and thus, for effective use, it should be complemented by a fast flow rate so as to purify more water per time.
On the other hand, low powered UV lights such as AA Aquarium's AAUV9W should be accompanied by a slower flow rate so that the light can penetrate the water and kill a big number of bacteria more effectively.
4. Flow Rate
The flow rate should be determined by the size of your tank. The bigger the aquarium, the faster the flow rate that you will need so that the sterilizer can turn over the whole volume of water in the shortest time possible.
For instance, if you have a 200-gallon tank, a 50 GPH flow rate is not appropriate for it. A value of about 200 – 300 GPH like in SunSun's JUP-23 is the most appropriate to cater to its volume.
5. Ease of Installation
UV sterilizers are either installed using suction cups, which is the easiest method, or mounting brackets, which is just a little bit complex.
1. Do I really need the UV aquarium sterilizer?
A UV aquarium sterilizer is a very important gadget for your aquarium. Bacteria and other microorganisms are very likely to appear in every fish tank after some time. Regular filters can only handle so much but with these tiny organisms, even a 3-stage filter can be powerless.
The reason why removing these microorganisms is important is because they suffocate the fish. Well, they don’t strangle the fish, but they consume all the oxygen in the water, leaving the fish in an uninhabitable environment.
Again, murky waters don’t look very good on any aquarium. They prevent you from having good views of the fish and other decorations from the outside.
2. How does the UV aquarium sterilizer work?
The working concept of UV sterilizers is actually very simple. A UV light bulb inside the unit produces UV light at a certain wavelength (usually 250nm to 270nm).
Water is directed to flow around this bulb and as the light hits the microorganisms, it mutates and breaks their DNA structure, effectively killing them or liming their growth. The lack of these bacteria in the water makes it clean and clear.
3. How long should I run the UV aquarium sterilizer?
This depends on a couple of factors, which include the size of the tank, the power of the sterilizer and the extent to which the water is contaminated.
For extremely green water in a big tank, you will need to run the sterilizer for a longer time as compared to mild contamination on a smaller tank.
While there is no definite answer to this, the most important thing is to run the unit until all the water is crystal clear.
4. Do I need accessories to install the UV aquarium sterilizer? What are they?
Most submersible sterilizers feature suction cups for instant installation. However, external, in-line sterilizers require mounting brackets for either hang-on or in-line installation.
5. How do I clean the UV aquarium sterilizer?
This is quite easy. Most of these sterilizers need to be cleaned on every bulb change. The steps below should be followed.
- Disassemble the unit.
- Remove the UV bulb.
- Remove the foam filter and clean it thoroughly.
- Clean the inside of the sterilizer
- Attach a new UV bulb.
- Reassemble the kit.
After going through this article, you should have a better understanding of what a UV sterilizer is and how it works.
That said, Aqua Ultraviolet's A00337 takes the overall best UV sterilizer spot primarily due to its powerful 25-watt UV light and fast flow rate.
For smaller tanks, SunSun's JUP-23 is recommended because it has a relatively powerful 13-watt bulb while its adjustable flow rate caters to different tank sizes.