Do I Need UV Sterilizer for my Fish Farm? (Advantages Explained)

By Matt Taylor  |  Equipment & Technology

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The two common problems fish farm owners are likely to face are; nuisance algae and fish disease. Any tool that can help prevent or significantly reduce both is always a welcome addition to the fish farm toolkit. But what does this have to do with using a UV sterilizer?

For many years now, the use of UV sterilizers in fish farms has been a debatable subject among many farmers. Even though this farm tool is widely used, many believe it stresses the fish when first installed. Adding to the first concern, others feel that the sterilizer isn’t the cost-effective solution for virus inactivation.

So, should you add the UV sterilizer to your list of fish farming tools and equipment? And is the UV sterilizer worth a purchase? Let’s find out.

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Why is a UV Sterilizer Needed?

If you’re looking for a simple yet effective way to get rid of algae, bacteria, parasites, or any other such nuisances from your fish farm, utilizing a UV sterilizer is the way to go. This tool will be a preventative and safety aid for your fish tank in two main ways;

  • It will make the water crystal clear, allowing you to enjoy the fish farm tank even more
  • Its protective nature will prevent the death of fish on your farm

Notably, the UV sterilizer is applicable in marine and freshwater fish settings. This versatility makes it a great and handy addition to your fish farm.

Is it Necessary to Use a UV Sterilizer?

Knowing how the UV Sterilizer works will help you understand its necessity in the fish farm. UV is the acronym of ultraviolet, and in this case, the sterilizer comes with a UV bulb that discharges light at a wavelength of 254 nm. The light emitted at this wavelength is dangerously high and could damage your eyes and tiny life forms in the fish farm.

Therefore, the light is safely obscured inside a UV body. When the fish pond or tank water passes near the UV bulb, organisms like parasites, bacteria, algae, and viruses are killed or damaged by the UV rays. This results in clean fish tank water with no disease pathogens and floating algae levels. But what about the beneficial bacteria? Does the UV sterilizer also destroy them?

The answer; is no!

Here’s what Happens to Healthy Bacteria:

Every fish pond owner knows that a healthy and balanced fish farm relies on the Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas species bacteria. These tiny single-celled organisms break down dead plant materials, fish waste, and organic debris accumulated in the fish tank. Further, the bacteria keep the aquarium water fresh and crystal clear by preventing the accumulation of toxic nitrite and ammonia.

Fortunately, the sterilizer’s bulb is designed to differentiate harmful bacteria from helpful bacteria. Therefore, when water passes near the bulb, it does not kill beneficial bacteria. That’s why farmers are advised to install the sterilizer when the fish tank is still ‘new,’ and the RAS has just been cycled.

Benefits of Using a UV Sterilizer

Using a UV sterilizer is healthy for your fish farm. The benefits are enormous and good for your fish and the aquarium environment. Not sure of its advantages in your fish farming practices?

Here are just a few benefits of using the UV sterilizer;

  • Destroys unnecessary microorganisms – Microbes like algae and viruses cannot resist the intense UV light from the sterilizer’s bulb. The UV light kills 99.99% of microorganisms, making this disinfection method effective in any fish farm facility.
  • Eliminates the need for antibiotics –Some harmful aquatic bacteria are resistant to antibiotics, which is a deep concern for many fish farmers. The sterilizer eliminates the need for such antibiotics, reducing the risks of antibiotic-resistant microbes.
  • Reduce fish deaths – Since the sterilizer works to maintain the water clean and fresh, it keeps the fish healthy, thus reducing mortality rates on the farm. Further, the improved water quality means that the facility can support a higher fish density. That way, you can confidently increase your overall fish production.
  • Production stability – The UV sterilizer will keep water stable and improve your fish production volumes, which means you can easily meet your desired quotas.
  • Forget about harmful chemicals and by-products – Contrary to the beliefs of many aquatic owners, the UV sterilizer doesn’t use chemicals when eliminating microbes. You do not need to worry about harmful by-products that could harm or contaminate your fish.
  • Destroys harmful ozone layers – ultra-violet light destroys excess ozone, especially in cases where the farmer uses ozone generators to sanitize water. The ozone-free environment is vital in aquaculture, increasing the fish’s lifespan.

Will Aquaculture UV Sterilizer Hurt the Fish?

Even though aquaculture UV sterilizers stress the fish when newly installed, they do not hurt or kill fish. To ensure your fish are safe around the sterilizer, keenly follow the installation manual to understand the right way of placing the equipment. For instance, the sterilizer should always be unplugged during installation.

After installing, confirm that everything is well and firmly connected without leaks. It is also advisable to avoid directly looking at the sterilizer’s light as it might damage your eyes. Avoid touching the UV light bulb directly with your hand during your fish farm operations since your skin might damage it. Wearing rubber gloves could help.

Microorganisms have different shapes and sizes, which affects their UV absorption. Therefore, the required time to kill each species will vary. Usually, just 3 hrs a day is enough. Notably, the sterilizer has a light bulb that can last up to 14 months before it needs replacement.

How to Choose The Right UV Sterilizer?

The two main factors you should consider when choosing the right UV sterilizer are; type and size. The suitable aquaculture UV sterilizer for your needs will depend on the type of water features on your fish farm. For example, if you own fish tanks, the low flowrate UV sterilizers will be suitable.

However, if you own an outdoor pond, you should go for the higher flowrate UV sterilizers. You’ll obviously need a commercial or industrial grade UV sterilizer if you own a large fish farm for better and efficient treatment.

What are the Different Sizes of Aquaculture UV sterilizers?

Aquaculture UV sterilizers come in different sizes, and the size depends on the device’s bulb wattage, volume of water it can treat and the flow rate that is how much gallons it can treat within one hour. Manufacturers include the size details on the packaging and purchase guides.

Here are popular sizes of UV sterilizers from Coralife and their specifications:

Product

UVC Lamp wattage

Pond or Tank Size (Gallons)

Flow rate (Gallons per hour)

Hose Sizes (Inches)

Turbo-Twist 3X

9W

up to 125

100 to 200 gph

1/2 or 5/8

Turbo-Twist 6X

18W

up to 250

200 to 400 gph

5/8 or 3/4

Turbo-Twist 12X

36W

up to 500

400 to 1200 gph

3/4 or 1 or 1¼

The Bottom Line: What To Expect

Aquaculture UV sterilizers are a worthwhile investment for your fish and fish farm. Studies show that UV sterilizers at 254 nm are effective against natural microbiota, foodborne pathogens, yeasts, viruses, and even molds. Once installed, you can expect healthy fish, increased fish production, and production stability.

A strong water flow requires a shorter exposure, but it might not be very efficient in destroying all the harmful microorganisms. Also, low water flows will make the process relatively slow but still kill the parasites, bacteria, and algae. To increase efficiency, match the water flow rate with the exposure time on the UV sterilizer light bulb.



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