UV sterilizers are becoming more and more popular in the aquatics industry, and for good reason! These handy gadgets are able to help treat a large variety of free-floating parasites, bacteria, fungi, and algae in your water.
UV sterilizers are an excellent tool, but they are not a cure-all, so it’s important to identify what kind of problem you’re having in your tank, pick a product that fits your tank best, and then get your new UV sterilizer up and running. We’ve created these reviews of UV sterilizers to take the guesswork out of these products for you.
This category of aquarium equipment can be confusing and finding out what you need can be difficult, so we’re here to help you out!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Aquatop Hang-On Back Aquarium UV Sterilizer||
|Best Value||AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine UV Sterilizer||
|Premium Choice||SunSun HW-304B Aquarium UV Sterilizer||
|SunSun Hang-On Aquarium UV Sterilizer||
|Coospider Sun JUP-01 Aquariums UV Sterilizer||
The 10 Best Aquarium UV Sterilizer Styles – Reviews 2021
1. Aquatop Hang-On Back Aquarium UV Sterilizer – Best Overall
The Aquatop Hang on Back Aquarium UV Sterilizer is our best overall pick because it is an excellent HOB filter with a built-in UV sterilizer. It is available in three sizes for tanks from 10-40 gallons, so larger tanks may require more than one filter. It can be used in freshwater or saltwater setups.
This filter includes a self-adjusting skimmer, helping to clear contaminants from the water and improve oxygenation. Since this UV sterilizer is built into the HOB filter, no additional connections or plumbing are needed to get the full benefit of the UV sterilizer.
This kit comes with a complete HOB filter including bio-foam, adjustable intake, and an adjustable water flow knob. The UV sterilizer has a separate power source from the filter itself, so make sure to set aside two outlet plugs for this system. This system is easy to set up and designed to run quietly.
2. AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine UV Sterilizer – Best Value
Out of the products we’ve reviewed, the AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine UV Sterilizer is the best aquarium UV sterilizer style for the money. This in-tank UV sterilizer has two size options for tanks up to 50 gallons and up to 120 gallons. It mounts to the inside of your tank with a suction cup and does not require any special plumbing or tools.
This UV sterilizer can be used in freshwater and saltwater tanks. It uses a patent-pending zig-zag water flow to maximize the amount of water it clears, allowing it to sterilizer larger amounts of water in a shorter period of time. This sterilizer works by pumping water through, but it should not be confused with a complete filtration system.
Due to the opaque black housing, you will not be able to see the UV light, which may make you believe it isn’t working. You also may note a slow flow rate, but these are both normal things. If you give this powerful tank gadget a few days, you will see a significant improvement in your algae problem.
3. SunSun HW-304B Aquarium UV Sterilizer – Premium Choice
The SunSun HW-304B Aquarium UV Sterilizer is our premium pick for the best UV sterilizer style. This is not only a UV sterilizer but a canister filter as well. This system only comes in one size, but it can handle a tank of up to 150 gallons.
This sterilizer and filter include four removable filter media trays that can be customized with your preferred filter media. It also includes hoses and different sizes of connectors for you to make sure it’s set up just right for your tank’s needs. This system has a built-in sprayer bar that ensures your tank water is thoroughly oxygenated before being returned to the tank. The powerful UV sterilizer decreases your problem algae and parasites. The UV sterilizer has an exclusive on/off switch, so you’ll be able to turn it on and off as needed without altering your filter flow.
The canister can hold a large number of different types of filter media and runs quietly. The lid latches securely and the drip-free shut-off tap makes cleaning and maintenance easy and hassle-free.
4. SunSun Hang-On Aquarium UV Sterilizer
SunSun makes a second appearance on our list with the Hang-On Aquarium UV Sterilizer. This product is a HOB filter with a built-in UV sterilizer. It’s available in two sizes covering tanks from 10-50 gallons.
This setup includes three-stage filtration in addition to the UV sterilizer. The water flow is adjustable and there is a built-in skimmer to help reduce contaminants on the water’s surface. There are two filter media baskets that can be customized with your preferred filter media. This product can be used in freshwater or saltwater tanks.
This UV sterilizer and HOB filter is designed to run quietly and is energy-efficient, making a minimal impact on your energy usage over the course of a year.
5. Coospider Sun JUP-01 Aquariums UV Sterilizer
The Coospider Sun JUP-01 Aquariums UV Sterilizer also functions as an air pump, water pump, and filter. This product is not adequate to serve as the main filter in a tank, though. It can be used in tanks up to 80 gallons and is only available in one size.
Coospider recommends opening the housing to inspect the interior every 1-2 weeks to ensure everything is in working order and no clogs or damage have happened. The company runs each UV sterilizer in water to test its functionality prior to shipping, ensuring you receive a quality product. This UV sterilizer has to be fully submerged underwater at all times while turned on. The motor will burn itself out if it is allowed to run while dry. Since this is a separate product from the main filter, it will need its own electrical outlet plug.
6. Jebao 36W Aquarium UV Light Sterilizer
The Jebao 36W Aquarium UV Light Sterilizer is not ideal for small aquariums but is a great option for ponds, large aquariums, and aquariums with exterior plumbing. This sterilizer can be used in any size tank or pond as long as the filtration system is adequate.
This UV sterilizer features a 22-foot-long electrical cord, making it extremely convenient for the outdoors. This is a non-submersible pump so it should be kept clear of the pond or aquarium and should not be stored in an area that is prone to flooding. This unit can be installed vertically or horizontally. Jebao recommends replacing the light in this unit every 6-12 months. They also recommend installing this UV sterilizer after the filter to prevent damage and clogs. If this is not possible, a prefilter before the UV sterilizer is necessary.
Installation is easy and this product is made with universal hose hookups, making it suitable for hoses of multiple sizes.
7. Coralife Turbo Twist UV Sterilizer
The Coralife Turbo Twist UV Sterilizer is a premium-priced product that is available in multiple sizes that can service small tanks all the way up to 500 gallons. This UV sterilizer is an in-line sterilizer, so it will not work with HOB filters. It can be used in freshwater or saltwater tanks.
It has a double-walled construction to protect the interior of the product, making it last as long as possible. This UV sterilizer features adapters for multiple sizes of tubing. This is a non-submersible sterilizer and comes with mounting equipment to make it easy to keep out of the way while still being able to access it for maintenance. It’s recommended to replace the UV light every 6 months to maintain efficacy. It does have an indicator light to let you know when the light is working.
8. Flexzion 9-Watt UV Sterilizer
The Flexzion 9-Watt UV Sterilizer is an in-line sterilizer that is available in one size for 50-2000 gallons. Aquarium filtration systems may not be powerful enough for this UV sterilizer, though, so this product is best suited for ponds. It is a non-submersible, in-line UV sterilizer.
This product includes hose adapters, making this functional with more than one size of hose. It is not functional for small hoses, though, and cannot be used with hoses smaller than ¾”. It has an on/off switch, but the light will not function if out of the housing, so it’s difficult to see if the product is working. This UV sterilizer has a somewhat complicated installation, so you may need some knowledge of plumbing to install it correctly.
9. Odyssea UV Pro Ultraviolet Sterilizer
The Odyssea UV Pro Ultraviolet Sterilizer is an in-line, non-submersible UV sterilizer that does not have an on/off switch, so it must be plugged in for use and unplugged when finished. It does not include hose adapters and cannot be used with hoses smaller than ¾-inch. This is available in one size for tanks up to 55 gallons but does require external plumbing so it will not work with a HOB filter system. It can be used for freshwater or saltwater tanks.
This UV sterilizer includes mounting equipment but may be difficult to mount. It does require some plumbing knowledge to install. It does not include any hoses or pumps. It does have an adjustable-rate switch and an indicator light, showing you when it is working.
10. Aqua Hang on UV Sterilizer
The Aqua Hang on UV Sterilizer can be used in saltwater tanks up to 75 gallons or freshwater tanks, ponds, or water features 200-500 gallons. This UV sterilizer is a non-submersible unit. It is made so that it can be hooked into the water return of an external filter, turning this UV sterilizer into the water return. The water return is shaped into a small hook that allows this unit to be hooked over the edge of a tank or a sump.
Since the hook is the water return, it cannot be removed or turned to make it not hook-shaped. This shape design does limit its uses for both tanks and ponds. It also means that this unit cannot be mounted under a tank or at an angle. This UV sterilizer only includes one hose adapter.
|What a UV Sterilizer Will Treat||What a UV Sterilizer Won’t Treat|
|Free-floating algae particles||Hair algae|
|Free-swimming parasites i.e., ich, velvet, trichodina, myxozoa||Parasites that are on or in your fish|
|Free-floating microalgae||Algae on rocks, gravel, glass, and decor|
|Free-floating bacteria i.e. streptococcus, pseudomonas, flavobacterium||Bacteria that have already infected your fish|
|Fungi in the water i.e. mouth rot, fin rot, cotton-wool disease||Fungal infections that have already made your fish sick|
Now that you know what you’re looking for, which product do you like the best for your tank setup?
Our best overall pick, the Aquatop Hang-On Back Aquarium UV Sterilizer, made the #1 spot because of all its great features, including being a UV sterilizer and HOB filter all in one, plus a skimmer. The best value product we chose, the AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine UV Sterilizer, was our #2 pick because of its patented zig-zag water flow, quiet operation, and cost-effectiveness. Our premium pick was the SunSun HW-304B Aquarium UV Sterilizer because although it has a premium price, it also has premium benefits, including being built into a canister filter with four customizable filter media trays and a built-in sprayer bar.
Remember that UV sterilizers are a tool to help improve your overall water quality, but they will only be able to eliminate free-floating problems in your water. If you have sick fish, they will need treatment in addition to sterilizing the tank.
We put these reviews together to take the guess-work out of choosing the right UV sterilizer for your tank to save you time and money.
Featured image credit: AA Aquarium Green Killing Machine Internal UV System, Chewy