For The Cleanest, Clearest, Healthiest Pond, Go UV

Posted by Aquatropic Staff on April 2, 2024

For The Cleanest, Clearest, Healthiest Pond, Go UV thumbnail image

When it comes to having the cleanest, clearest and healthiest pond, ultraviolet sterilization is a tool that should not be overlooked. There are very few ways to reduce pathogen transfer that work better than this perfectly safe and well tested technology. The same elements that sanitize water give it its unparalleled effectiveness at clarifying for an added bonus!

Usually, you'll see ultraviolet sterilization just referred to as UV and we'll lean on this abbreviation going forward. So, what is this miracle technology? It's not really a miracle, and it's actually been used as a disinfection agent since 1910! In short, the mechanism of UV sterilization uses specific wavelengths of light to kill off suspended (free floating) organisms in your pond. After the water runs through the mechanical filter (which will make the UV work better and need less maintenance), pond water is pushed past a bulb producing ultraviolet light. In most cases, this light contact doesn't actually kill the organisms, but given ample contact time and water penetration, it results in the organisms being mutated in such a way as to make them unable to reproduce, and thus the population of said organisms crashes. UV light can work this way on bacteria and viruses, brighter lights or longer contact time (or both) will similarly affect larger organisms like algae, fungi and protozoans.

Removing infectious agents from the water significantly reduces the transfer of the vast majority of illnesses that can spread between your fish in your backyard pond. It isn't a panacea for disease elimination, as used by itself, it will not cure fish that are already infected with some type of malady. This being said, most of these illnesses are spread through the water column, and UV is very effective at purifying the water and thus stopping the transfer of whatever the sick fish have to other, healthy fish in your pond. This is called “vector control,” and very simply, it just means we are removing or limiting the method of disease transfer. Fish that aren't stressed and well fed will generally have good enough immune systems to recover from most common illnesses and the UV can help prevent them from being re-infected, or infected with other ailments while they recover and afterwards.

In regard to having a sparkling clean pond, the water clearing effects of utilizing UV sterilization are stunning. When used correctly, the system can effectively wipe out suspended algae and bacteria, taking the water in your pond from a murky mess to a crystalline palace in 24 to 48 hours in many cases. This clearing effect is enhanced by a secondary aspect of UV sterilization that isn't understood well by most hobbyists, called redox.

Redox is an abbreviation for reduction / oxidation potential. At the risk of vastly over simplifying, redox is a measurement of the potential for an atom to gain (reduction) or lose (oxidation) an electron. Pond water (and also aquarium) water with a higher redox potential can actually pull electrons from bacteria and algae, killing them and removing them from suspension. The benefit of a well sized UV sterilization unit is that it can balance the redox potential of your aquarium water without any chance of harmful effects on your other tank inhabitants. Pond water with a good redox potential is cleaner, clearer and healthier for fish and plants than ponds with redox skewed one way or another.

All of these miraculous sounding results are real but are dependent on correctly utilizing whatever sterilization unit you choose. We at Aquatropic offer our retail partners a quality line of UV sterilizers for both ponds and tanks from Tropical Marine Centre and V2 (as well as parts, replacement bulbs and knowledge). The most important parts of getting UV sterilization right are wattage and contact time. Simply put, this means water has to travel at the correct speed, past a bulb matched to that speed in order to do the job in the amount of time that it takes the water to pass through the unit. All the units we sell do not include pumps, and a pump with the correct flow, or a flow that is adjustable to the unit is imperative to making these systems effective.

If you are planning to use your ultraviolet sterilization unit in conjunction with your filter pump, it is of vital importance to match the flow speed of the pump with the acceptable flow rate of the UV unit. This number will be clearly visible in the marketing material of any UV you purchase. For example, the V2 Vecton 400 has a maximum flow rate of 350 gallons per hour (gph). As long as your return flow is less than that, you will get full sterilization and balanced redox out of it. Simple! If your filter pump is too strong, you will need to divert some of the flow away from the UV unit or buy a secondary pump to move water through the UV unit and then have this water return to the pond. For those of you with smaller ponds, the V2 Vecton 850 can take up to 675 gallons per hour! If you need more flow, you should start shopping our selection of Pond rated UV Sterilizers, like the Pro Clear UV 55, rated for 4755gph and ponds up to 12,000 gallons! It is also commonplace to run multiple UV units on one system, and in this way, you can not only stack as many as you need for your sterilization needs, but this also allows for a maintenance schedule that gets divided between them.

Can I over sterilize? If you were using an ozonator (another article, and really only used on the marine side) or had a marine pond, this would be possible / more likely. Sterilization units don't differentiate between beneficial bacteria and algae and the ones more detrimental to our hobby. This being said, in all your freshwater ponds, over-sterilization is basically impossible.

In the end, the easiest, and safest way to maintain crystal clear water, with excellent redox potential in your pond is a quality UV unit, and this practice has our highest recommendation. Everyone who sees your pond will be stunned by how brilliantly clear it is and your fish, inverts and plants will be happier and healthier. Yes, plants too, there's good research to indicate that plants grow better in ponds with clearer water and more balanced redox potential! Maintenance is super easy, just turn off the unit (you don't want to look directly at a UV bulb that is on, this can cause irreparable damage to your eyes,) and clean the bulb every couple water changes, and replace the bulb every six months. If you're ready for the clearest, healthiest pond you've ever dreamed possible, have your Pond Supply store or Local Fish Store call us here at Aquatropic today!