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Opinions requested about UV sterilizers

JVU

Vice President
BOD
I’m thinking about adding back a UV sterilizer to my main system. I’ve had one before and I’ve done a lot of research over the years so I understand the science of them well enough, level 1 vs level 2, etc.

I’m mostly wanting one for level 1 sterilization- bacteria, viruses, and algae. I’m tired of having to scrape the glass 3/week vs having it look foggy most of the time. Also I had some RTN a few months ago that really seemed like there was a bacterial component to me based on some observations I’m going to go into right now.

Level 2 sterilization (parasites) is also good as long as I’m achieving level 1 as well. I’m aware of the BRS videos saying you can’t really have both, but what he says isn’t consistent with what most other experts say when they give specific parameters.

My actual water volume is about 180 gallons. So using estimates from online, I think I could get level 1 sterilization with about a 15-25 watt system, and level 2 with about a 40-50 watt system.

I’m not super worried about cost, but Pentair and Aqua UV seem really overpriced for PVC tubes and 3rd party rebranded bulbs and ballasts. I saw saltwateraquarium.com and CoralVue have high output UV sterilizers under the IceCap brand now that seem equivalent to the market leaders at half the price or so. Seem like recent entries? Their 40 watt model seems like it would work for me.

So I’m interested in your thoughts on good systems (and bad ones). Anyone tried the IceCap ones? Also it would work out for me better space-wise if I could stand it vertical in my sump, with the bottom foot or so underwater; any thoughts on whether or not that is a terrible idea?
 
I have zero experience, but the majority of the podcasts I have listened to treat a UV as a tool to treat an issue for a specific amount of time while you have that issue, ie parasites or dinos. I am following along because I would like to hear about what people have to say who have actually run one what the long term benefits are vs the cost of "weak fish who rely on the uv cleaned water", which is what a few of the podcasts I listen to treat a UV as.
 

phc567

Supporting Member
I’ve run a jebao 55w 24/7 for years. But I didn’t know much back then. The ballast burned out. After a year. I took it apart. There was black slime on the inside of the pvc tube. Then I bought another one. Same thing a year later. Burnt out ballast and black slime.
Since then I switched to aqua Uv 40w. I run 1000 gph thru it on my DT. I have to clean the quartz tube every two months or it builds up calcium deposits. I also run a pentair 25w. On my 60 frag. I run 350 gph thru it. Quartz tube is clean after 2 months.
I have them set for protozoans. I still have ich as I have a few thin slime fish. But I heavy feed and have not suffered any losses yet. No slime on the aqua or pentair.
Oh. I bought both the aqua and pentair used. If you do that. You can get them pretty cheap. But you have to factor in that you will have to buy new bulbs. They are around 60 dollars.
 

Wild Bob

Supporting Member
+1 on the Lifegard 55. I bought mine from a pond supply company, If I recall, it was about 60% of what BRS was asking for the similar Pentair. Excellent build quality.
 
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CaseyP

Supporting Member
+1 on the Lifegard Pro-Max for quality and value. I run the 55w version. UV is very corrosive which leads to melting plastic over time on cheap units. The Lifegard Pro-Max is very robustly built and has a pvc sleeve on the inside which you can change annually with the bulb. This way the main body doesn't lose integrity in the long run.
 
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Reefinglens

Supporting Member
No input to give with this topic because I’ve just recently also considered running 2 UV sterilizers for the same reason- to accomplish both lvl 1 & 2 in my display. And running UV for lvl 2 on my Holding QT. I’ve only watched a handful of videos and read a few articles, and there seems to be A LOT of debate on the effectiveness vs cost and factoring additional plumbing & maintenance. so far I’m still leaning toward the ney..

But I’d like to follow to hear everyone’s thoughts, experience and recommendations.
 

JVU

Vice President
BOD
Funny that people like the LifeGard 55 so much. I had the HO 6” diameter 55 watt model a couple years ago. It was really bulky and hard for me to find a good spot for. I used it for a year, didn‘t really notice any difference in anything, but so many other things change in a tank and a lot of what it helps with is to prevent issues, so I don’t put too much stock in my perception of change.

When it came time to change the bulb after a year, I somehow managed to break the quartz sleeve even though I knew that could be an issue and was being careful. I ordered another sleeve and broke that one too trying to put it back together. The slip gasket that goes on the sleeve could not be removed nor a new one put on a new sleeve. After a couple months of buying new expensive parts only to never be able to get it back together I sold it off in frustration. During the couple of months it was offline I didn’t notice any changes in my tank (not that I necessarily would).

LifeGard may make good products but I’m sure as hell not buying their UV sterilizer again.
 

Wild Bob

Supporting Member
JVU raises a good point. I noted when I first assembled the LifeGard its a bit trickier than what I had observed watching the Pentair BRS videos .. If I remember correctly, it took me two attempts to fit all the bits together correctly, and I can assemble a Jaguar V12 blindfolded. I'll let you know about bulb replacement in 220 days. On the other hand, the LifeGard product is more configurable in regards to the inflow/outflow locations, as they are bolted to the lamp housing rather than glued on and can be rotated - a feature I really needed in a tight sump.
 
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iani

Supporting Member
JVU raises a good point. I noted when I first assembled the LifeGard its a bit trickier than what I had observed watching the Pentair BRS videos .. If I remember correctly, it took me two attempts to fit all the bits together correctly, and I can assemble a Jaguar V12 blindfolded. I'll let you know about bulb replacement in 220 days. On the other hand, the LifeGard product is more configurable in regards to the inflow/outflow locations, as they are bolted to the lamp housing rather than glued on and can be rotated - a feature I really needed in a tight sump.
Make sure you have spare parts of everything you may need before the change. What I did was email Lifegard and ask them for everything that could possibly need to be changed including all gaskets.
 
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iani

Supporting Member
Funny that people like the LifeGard 55 so much. I had the HO 6” diameter 55 watt model a couple years ago. It was really bulky and hard for me to find a good spot for. I used it for a year, didn‘t really notice any difference in anything, but so many other things change in a tank and a lot of what it helps with is to prevent issues, so I don’t put too much stock in my perception of change.

When it came time to change the bulb after a year, I somehow managed to break the quartz sleeve even though I knew that could be an issue and was being careful. I ordered another sleeve and broke that one too trying to put it back together. The slip gasket that goes on the sleeve could not be removed nor a new one put on a new sleeve. After a couple months of buying new expensive parts only to never be able to get it back together I sold it off in frustration. During the couple of months it was offline I didn’t notice any changes in my tank (not that I necessarily would).

LifeGard may make good products but I’m sure as hell not buying their UV sterilizer again.
Do you think the gasket was too small?
 

JVU

Vice President
BOD
Do you think the gasket was too small?
The old gasket I tried to retrieve to reuse with the new sleeve since it didn’t come with the new sleeve, but it was fused on the sleeve, like melted. When I tried to put together the new sleeve of course it doesn’t come with a gasket even though you will apparently need it every time. Once I got the gasket it seemed too small to fit on the sleeve after a lot of effort. Their customer support said to just push it on firmly, and that was the second time I broke a sleeve despite being as careful as possible and not at all rushing it. Just seemed to me like it was designed poorly to have so many failure points you have to somehow get through to do the standard annual bulb change.

I’m looking for one where you unscrew the cap, slide out the old bulb/sleeve, slide in a new one, and screw the cap back on, with zero drama.
 

phc567

Supporting Member
Pentair and aqua are extremely easy to assemble and disassemble.
To clean the quartz tube. I made a pvc pipe with a cap on the one end. I fill it with vinegar and water. Put the tube in for a few hours and it’s done. When I’m done with my vinegar I’ll probably move over to citric acid.
 

Coral reefer

DBTC Officer
BOD
The old gasket I tried to retrieve to reuse with the new sleeve since it didn’t come with the new sleeve, but it was fused on the sleeve, like melted. When I tried to put together the new sleeve of course it doesn’t come with a gasket even though you will apparently need it every time. Once I got the gasket it seemed too small to fit on the sleeve after a lot of effort. Their customer support said to just push it on firmly, and that was the second time I broke a sleeve despite being as careful as possible and not at all rushing it. Just seemed to me like it was designed poorly to have so many failure points you have to somehow get through to do the standard annual bulb change.

I’m looking for one where you unscrew the cap, slide out the old bulb/sleeve, slide in a new one, and screw the cap back on, with zero drama.
Aqua uv
 

rygh

Treasurer
BOD
I have used and Aqua UV for years.
Specifically the 57 watt, 2" ports. MPN A00070. Set up on one of my two return lines.
Runs 24/7.
I like the large pipe, longer dwell time.

It reduces yellowing in the water.
It reduces green algae buildup on glass, but no effect on coralline.
I believe it reduces but does not fix ich outbreaks, so it is a safety to my QT.
But it is not a "magic" device that makes your tank perfect.

Make sure you can easily remove it fully for cleaning!
Every couple of years, you need to take it apart, soak in vinegar, replace bulb.
Bulbs are expensive.

As a side not, I run one on my pool also.
 
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JVU

Vice President
BOD
Any opinions on the new IceCap UV sterilizers? Looks like they just launched so I couldn’t find any reviews yet. Product seems high quality as best as I can tell from pics, promotional materials and product manual. CoralVue support is good in my experience and their family of products have worked well for me. At the very least they don’t sell crap or scam products like a lot of UV sterilizers out there.

About half the price for the unit and even less than that for consumables (bulbs, sleeve). Their price seems like what should be the correct price for high quality UV sterilizers given that they are not new tech or particularly complicated.

 

rygh

Treasurer
BOD
No direct experience with Icecap.
Agree that ballasts are no new tech. And they should all be electronic now.
However UV bulbs are not all created equal, so I would worry about going cheap there.
 

JVU

Vice President
BOD
IceCap/CoralVue do give specs for their UV bulbs, not sure if that demonstrates they are equivalent high quality, but it’s a good sign that they are at least paying attention to bulb quality:


40w UV Lamp​

Length: 15.75in
Current: 800mA
UVC Output: (uW/cm2) 105
Lamp Life: 10,000hrs
 
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