This post includes affiliate links, for which we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase using our links.
As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more.
It is beyond doubt that a clean aquarium environment facilitates a healthy and prosperous living without unpleasant situations and diseases. This applies without exception to any aquatic environment regardless if fresh or saltwater.
A dirty and unchecked aquarium tank will result in a build-up of disease-causing microorganisms that might result in certain diseases or even worse, potential fish losses.
Best UV Sterilizers to Use For Your Fish Tanks
Best UV Sterilizer
|Emperor Aquatics Smart UV Sterilizer|
Tanks: Up to 125 Gallons
|Check On Amazon|
|Aqua Ultraviolet Inline UV Sterilizer|
Size: 1 x 1 x 1 inch body
|Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot|
Top HOB UV Sterilizer
|Aqua Advantage 2000 HOB UV Sterilizer|
Pond UV Sterilizer
|Jebao Aquarium UV Light Sterilizer|
Size: 20″ x 13″ x 4″
|Check On Amazon|
Budget UV Sterilizer
|Coralife Turbo Twist UV Sterilizer|
|Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot|
Internal UV Sterilizer
|Aquatop Submersible UV Filter|
Tanks: Up to 100 Gallons
|Check On Amazon|
Power UV Sterilizers
|Lifegard Aquatics UV Sterilizer|
Inlet: 1 1/4″ Slip or 3/4″ FPT
25 Watt UV Sterilizer
|Aqua Ultraviolet UV Sterilizer|
|Check On AmazonCheck MarineDepot|
What are UV Sterilizers, and how do They Work?
Having the best aquarium filtration system would certainly provide your fish with a healthy environment to thrive and live. However, most filter systems are not designed to eliminate all microalgae and pathogens.
This happens because some of the microscopic organisms are too small to be trapped by the regular mechanical filter system. But when exposed to ultraviolet light emissions, most of these microorganisms are killed or sterilized, making them unable to reproduce.For this reason, adding the best UV sterilizer to your filtration will ensure that your tank is always clean and safe for your fish and other aquatic inhabitants.
The UV sterilizer for a fish tank is an ultra power filtration system that uses a germicide fluorescent bulb that emits UV light at a wavelength that irritates and eliminates microscopic organisms found in the water column.
This is because ultraviolet light can scramble the DNA of bacteria and other microorganisms, thereby killing or sterilizing them. Being a unicellular organism and having a thin membrane, most microorganisms’ skin can be easily penetrated by the UV light.
Since most bacteria and other microorganisms have a low lifespan in water, sterilizing them would reduce their reproduction and build-up in the tank. This is a better alternative than chemical treatment. No matter how efficient chemical treatments might be, they can also affect the aquatic species.
Simultaneously, the UV light cannot penetrate the multicellular aquatic species like since they have thicker skin. As such, having the best UV sterilizer would ensure that the build-up of disease-causing microorganisms is significantly reduced or even eliminated.
What about Beneficial Bacteria?
Unfortunately, the UV sterilizer does not discriminate between beneficial microorganisms and disease-causing microorganisms. Therefore we recommend not to use the UV sterilizer when the tank is first cycled.
This will allow the beneficial microorganisms to settle and attach to the fish, coral, substrate and filtration media to be relatively safe from the UV emissions later on.
However, UV sterilizers can only kill free-floating microorganisms. They cannot kill microorganisms that are attached to the fish, coral or substrate. As much as this is important for the beneficial bacteria, it is convenient for the disease-causing bacteria.
Where to Install an Aquarium UV Sterilizer?
It is also essential to reduce the filter’s water flow rate to allow for a longer contact time with the UV sterilizer. This is crucial to provide effective sterilization of the tank’s water column.
What to Consider When Choosing your UV Sterilizer
When choosing your UV sterilizer, many factors should be considered. This includes, but not limited to tank size, type and size of organisms, contact time, water flow rates, bulb power, UV transmittance, among many others. Let’s tackle the most important ones below:
Because different UV sterilizers come with specific features to work effectively in accordance with the tank size, it is therefore vital to make sure that your tank size matches perfectly with the sterilizer.
Type and Size or Organisms
Different organisms have different resistance to particular UV exposure. Some microorganisms require more exposure to the radiation and UV dosage to be effectively sterilized.
The amount of time a microorganism is exposed to UV light is essential to the sterilization efficiency. The longer the water contact time, the more efficient the sterilization effect will be.This can be increased by reducing the filter’s water flow rate or going for a UV sterilizer that is designed to reduce the flow of water in the sleeve quartz.
Water Flow Rate
As said earlier, the water flow rate affects the water’s contact time and sterilization efficiency. You should best consider going for a UV sterilizer with an adjustable flow rate.
The amount of UV emissions is much dependent on the bulb power. This is a measure of the bulb wattage. However, a high wattage also implies that the bulb’s efficiency will decrease in time. As such, the bulbs might need to be replaced more often.
This measures how efficiently the UV light gets transmitted and how it penetrates the water. Transmittance can be most affected by water turbidity and cloudiness. However, most aquarium UV sterilizers can thrive in certain degrees of water turbidity.
This article reviews the best UV sterilizers to help you achieve a thriving aquatic environment and have the best fish keeping experience.
1. Emperor Aquatics – Best Aquarium UV Sterilizer
When asking for a high-performance UV sterilizer, you should definitely hold on for a bit and take a look at the Emperor UV sterilizer.
With over 30 models to choose from the Emperor aquatic manufacturer provides top-notch aquarium UV sterilizers to suit your preference and application.
The Emperor UV sterilizer is a waterproof and safe unit suitable for freshwater and saltwater ponds and aquariums.
This fish tank UV sterilizer has a 1.5 inches inlet and outlet unions in terms of size, and the body is about 3 inches thick. This device is easy to install and use, simply plug and play out of the box.
It has an easy-to-remove UV lamp and quartz assembly, making it possible to remove the light without disturbing the water flow.
The entire unit can also be easily disassembled for cleaning and maintaining the UV sterilizer.
If you haven’t decided yet, then you’ll be amazed to see this unit also comes with a UV vessel lifetime limited warranty. Sadly, this aquarium UV sterilizer comes with a non-friendly price tag. But this is duly compensated with its high efficiency.
- High durability and longevity
- Suitable for freshwater and saltwater
- Long-lasting UV lamps
- UV lifetime limited warranty
- Easy to install and disassemble
- Does not include mounting brackets
2. Aqua Ultraviolet – Top Inline UV Sterilizer
This is a product of the “Advantage” series, and it’s a top-notch UV sterilizer for small ponds, aquarium and water environments.
This aquarium UV sterilizer works flawlessly with both saltwater and freshwater aquariums.
As with most “Advantage” series products, it has a sleek design, and it’s a lightweight unit that efficiently provides water sterilization.
It has a high-quality Aqua Ultraviolet UV that can clear your water in a few days and provide your fish with a safe environment. The super 15 watts UV lamp can effectively eliminate bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
The high-quality hard-quartz sleeve allows for a high UV light transmission rate of up to 99%, and it comes with a three-quarter inches barb for easy installation.
An instruction manual is included in the package, which clearly outlines the direction of use. For optimal results, this aquarium UV sterilizer should be operated according to its instructions manual.
- Hard quartz sleeve
- Sleek design
- Lightweight unit for optimal performance
- Optimal result in a few days
- Included instructions manual
- Does not come with a hose clamp
- Does not come with a mounting bracket
3. Aqua Advantage – Best HOB UV Sterilizer
It’s an excellent HOB UV sterilizer for freshwater tanks up to 200 gallons and suitably operated with a max flow rate of 642 GPH. If used in a saltwater tank, it’s recommended for tanks up to 70 gallons and suitably operated with a max flow rate of 214 GPH.
When installing it, the half-inch barb fitting will be of great use and help, so you can set up and have the aquarium ultraviolet sterilizer operating in no time. This UV sterilizer reduces excessive plumbing connections as it comes with a hanger spout that hangs on the back of an aquarium or filter box.
Rest assured as this UV sterilizer comes with a limited lifetime warranty on housing against UV degradation and a one-year manufacturer warranty.
There is an included product manual and documentation on optimally installing and using one of the best aquarium UV sterilizers currently available on the market.
- Optimal clarifier function
- Suitable for both saltwater and freshwater
- One year warranty
- Long-lasting UV lamp
- Easy to install and use
- Included user manual
- Quite pricey
4. Jebao 36W – Best UV Sterilizer for Ponds
Jebao UV sterilizer for fish tanks is another top aquarium device with an attractive price tag that’s hardly rivalled by competitors.
The UV light for aquarium is made with high-quality magnetic ballast suitable for both freshwater and saltwater applications.
It offers a permanent rid of algae blooms and other unicellular organisms to provide a clean and safe tank.
The ultraviolet lamp emits germicidal radiation that alters the genetic coding of the microorganisms such as bacteria, algae and protozoa. A 22 ft cord and sealed transformer powers the aquarium UV sterilizer to provide a maximum flow rate at 4400 GPH.
This UV sterilizer for fish tanks is a non-submersible one, which makes it suitable for external use only. For ease of use, this aquarium UV sterilizer can be installed horizontally or vertically.
From our reviews, we advise you to install it after the filter system to ensure that the water going through the UV light for fish tank, is free from clogs and debris. The ultraviolet quartz sleeve should be cleaned regularly with a swimming pool muriatic acid or lime to ensure that the surface is free of films that inhibit its performance.For optimal performance, the ultraviolet bulb should be replaced every 6-12 months of usage.
- Easy installation and usage
- Efficient at eliminating algae gloomy and green water
- Excellent result in few days
- Extra-long power cord and transformer
- Fairly cheap
- Product packaging might be faulty
5. Coralife Turbo – Budget Pick UV Sterilizer
If you’re on a low budget and getting yourself worked up on how to get a top UV sterilizer, you might want to check out the Coralife Turbo.
Offering an excellent UV sterilization at a reasonably low price, Coralife Turbo is a perfect tool for your saltwater or freshwater aquarium tank.
It is available in 3 different models, depending on the tank size and its bio-load.
- Increased exposure due to twist design
- Operating LED indicator
- Can handle up to 250 gallons
- Can be hung-on or inline
- Easy to install and use
- Fairly cheap
- Device operation might be slow
6. Aquatop – Best Submersible UV Sterilizer
If you’re in the market for an effective UV filter to give you optimal results in no time, then the Aquatop UV sterilizer is a great device to start with.
This UV aquarium sterilizer is suitable and works like a charm for both freshwater and saltwater tanks.
Built to efficiently eliminate microorganisms in large aquarium tanks up to 100 gallons, making it an ideal UV sterilizer for Cichlid tanks.
It is equipped with a super 9 watt UV sterilizer and provides a max flow rate of 264 GPH. The Aquatop UV filter practically eliminates all harmful microorganisms and prevents algae build-up. It also controls the free-floating parasites and disease-causing pathogens, so the fish won’t be in any harm’s way.
The fish tank UV sterilizer has a “hang on back” filter style and a built-in self-adjusting surface skimmer to promote clean water and encourage gas exchange. If your tank is overcrowded and ammonia spikes may occur, this UV sterilizer has a replaceable filter pad made of high quality activated carbon that efficiently eliminates toxic ammonia.
It comes with a large prefilter sponge for mechanical filtration, ensuring the water that meets the UV bulb is free of any food or fish waste.
In terms of installation, this is a submersible UV sterilizer, meaning you don’t have to worry about any plumbing and cumbersome components outside the tank. It can fit on aquarium rims up to 3.75 inches.
- Easy to install and use
- Eliminates toxic ammonia
- Serves as a filter and sterilizer
- Suitable for both freshwater and saltwater
- Adjustable flow rate
- Quite large and bulky
7. Lifegard Aquatics – Fast & Efficient UV Sterilizer
The Lifegard Aquatics UV Sterilizer is, by all means, one of the best high-quality UV sterilizers that’ll do an excellent job for a long time.
It’s absolutely suitable as a freshwater or saltwater UV sterilizer.
The included quick startup guide, will significantly help you during installation and use as it’s already pre-assembled out of the box.
The Lifegard Aquatics UV sterilizer comes with a sleek design, and you can easily hide it inside the tank behind plants or decorations. Therefore, you won’t have to deal with any tubing outside the tank.
Should you have to replace the UV bulb, there’s a useful LED replacement signal that’ll tell you when it’s the time for that. The fish tank UV sterilizer operates at a maximum water flow rate of 50 GPH. However, the flow rate is reduced with the bulb’s zigzag design to allow for more contact time and optimal operation.
The bulb’s life can be significantly extended, using the aquarium UV sterilizer timer once the water has been cleared. It is powered by a child-safe low voltage of 12V. This aquarium UV sterilizer comes with an impressive 3-year warranty on the pump.
- Easy installation with no tools
- 3 years warranty on the pump
- LED replacement signal
- Included quick startup guide
- Totally submersible UV sterilizer
- Improved sterilization
- Not very sturdy build materials
8. Aqua Ultraviolet – Best 25 Watt UV Sterilizer
The Aqua UV Sterilizer is a 25-watt twist UV light for fish tank, that can be installed both inline or submersible.
As a freshwater aquarium UV sterilizer, it can easily handle all sorts of tank setups of about 1200 gallons maximum.
If you plan to use it as a saltwater UV sterilizer, you shouldn’t use it in tanks larger than 150 gallons.
With improved functions, this UV sterilizer for aquarium eliminates microorganisms and helps to reduce biological growth. It has a 2-inch inlet and outlet tubing for efficient water flow. It is a powerful inline aquarium UV sterilizer, that’s one of the easiest to install.
It comes with straightforward installation and operation instructions. The ultraviolet sterilizer for aquarium comes with a long-lasting lamp life of about 14 months, that’s also equipped with a complete lamp quartz sleeve and a transformer.
You’ll be thrilled to see how in just a few days or a week, this UV sterilizer will leave your tank clear and safe from any disease-causing microorganisms. This aquarium UV sterilizer comes with one year warranty from the day of purchase or 18 months from manufacturing date.
It also has a limited lifetime warranty on the housing against ultraviolet degradation.
- Long-lasting lamp life
- Comes with complete lamp quartz and transformer
- One year warranty on purchase
- Improved sterilization function
- Included instruction manual
- Some products were shipped faulty
Conclusion – What’s the Best Aquarium UV Sterilizer?
Having a clean and safe tank for your aquatic inhabitants might be difficult without the help of one of the best aquarium UV sterilizers.Most microorganisms often cause diseases to aquatic plants and animals, and algae build-up might affect water chemistry. Using chemical treatments to eliminate these bugs can actually cause more harm than help.
Therefore, using the best aquarium UV sterilizer will achieve this without endangering the aquatic species. This makes the UV sterilizer a must-have for every aquarium setup.
From the carefully selected reviews on high quality and affordable aquarium UV sterilizers, you can make a pick easily to suit your application.
The Emperor UV Sterilizer is the overall best aquarium UV sterilizer on our reviews. Sadly, it comes with a not so friendly price tag. But as we all know that top quality has its price, this can be a determining factor when making a choice.
However, if you are on a tight budget and need a UV sterilizer to offer outstanding performance at a fair price, then you might consider checking out the Aquatop UV Sterilizer. The best part about this unit is that it can serve both as a filter and a sterilizer. That is so much to ask for a fair price.