What is an Ultraviolet Sterilizer?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An ultraviolet sterilizer is a device which is used to maintain water quality in aquariums, ponds, and other aquaculture environments. Ultraviolet sterilizers are generally designed to be used in conjunction with a filtration system and a maintenance regimen which will keep the overall conditions as healthy as possible. A number of companies manufacture these devices, and they can be found for sale at merchants which provide supplies for hobbyists and aquaculture professionals. They can also be ordered directly through some manufacturers.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

In a system equipped with an ultraviolet sterilizer, water is passed through the sterilizer at a steady rate. As the water moves through, it is bombarded with ultraviolet radiation, which kills microorganisms in the water such as bacteria, algae, and protozoa. Then, the cleaned water is released back into the aquarium or similar environment.

The water which enters the sterilizer is usually filtered. Filtering accomplishes several goals. In the first place, it keeps fish and other inhabitants of the water out of the water destined to move through the UV sterilizer, so that they are not exposed to the radiation. In the second place, it removes impurities from the water; the clearer the water which passes through the sterilizer, the more effective the UV sterilizer will be at zapping unwanted microorganisms.

People can adjust the flow rate for the given environment as needed. An ultraviolet sterilizer can also be used to clear air which is passed through a bubbler, ensuring that microorganisms do not hitch a ride on the water which is used to oxygenate the environment. While the ultraviolet sterilizer will not be wholly effective in every case, it can radically reduce the microorganism population and keep an environment clean. This is useful in general, and can be very helpful when a disease is moving through the water.

Sterilizers cannot address microorganisms living in or on inhabitants of the water. If disease does occur, it may be necessary to isolate infected individuals so that they do not pass the disease on to others, and to medicate them to kill the infectious agent. UV sterilizers also cannot make up for unclean conditions; if the environment is not properly maintained, it can become a haven for bacteria even with an ultraviolet sterilizer. It is also important to make adjustments to the environment to meet the needs of specific inhabitants, as some fish may require different nutrients, different pH balances, and so forth.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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