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Basic Advice

All About UV: Why You’re Missing the Best-Kept Secret of Aquarium UpKeep

Most of you have encountered that subtle green ‘haze’ in your aquarium at some point in your aquarium hobby. For beginners that aren’t comfortable with maintaining stable water conditions, this is one of the most frustrating obstacles to a beautiful tank.

That ‘green haze’ is actually suspended algae in your water column. It’s most commonly seen in aquariums with unstable water parameters, such as too many nutrients, or too much light for the bioload, although it can happen when you’re simply moving things around in the tank, removing the algae from objects. (Having more biomedia can sometimes alleviate these issues, as well.)

Without UV, you’re looking at a few days of tweaking your water parameters to remove the excess nutrients, or even moving your tank to take out that extra sunlight. It’s annoying, and can frustrate some beginners that aren’t able to maintain the proper water parameters just yet.

Fortunately, there’s a secret that most Aquarists often ignore: UV is an extremely efficient method of removing that green ‘haze’ in your aquarium. It’s used by many scientists in clean labs to permanently remove any bacteria that passes through the UV light.

Aquarists are now discovering the benefits of UV in a filtration system. even the low-end UV attachments almost completely remove the green haze in a few days, and can help keep your tank healthy if used correctly.

Product Types


These are stand-alone products that are meant for smaller tanks. They operate independently of any other filtration, and should include their own pump and tubing. They mount directly to the back of the aquarium, and usually include some sort of regulation to control the amount of tank water being treated with UV.

These models are almost always easier to install on most tanks, and don’t require much plumbing or preparation. (No digging around in the tank cabinet to find that UV tubing.)


This form of UV is meant for larger tanks, and is placed after all other filtration has been done.Like Hang-On versions, inline UV allows for the control of water entering the system, which reflects how much water is being UV treated.

These usually come in long tubes that are meant to be placed ‘in line’ with your current filter’s tubing. Because of this, they’re usually placed in a cabinet under the tank, which can be a challenge to setup in some tank situations.

Using UV Filtration

Some filters include this option by default, such as AquaClear’s line. However, it’s important to note the proper use.

If you use fertilizers in a planted tank, or are dosing iron in your tank, you should turn off the UV. UV can break down iron into forms that aren’t easily usable by plants, and has been found to reduce the effectiveness of fertilizers by breaking them down in less readily-used forms for plants.

An ideal situation for UV use is with an inline attachment so it can be placed after all other filtration has been completed to prevent any potential interactions with biological and chemical media.

This post was provided by: Taylor Daughtry of Aquascape Addiction

If you’re interested in reading more about creating a beautiful, photo-quality aquascape, join Taylor over at Thanks for reading!

About Jon Wolf

Servicing Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana & Michigan, Blue Planet Aquarium Services has been the most trusted name in aquarium design, installation and maintenance since 1999. A company large enough to be dependable but small enough to still watch out for your best interests, Blue Planet is the only company to call if you are planning to install an aquarium or have one maintained.

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