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Old 03-28-2016, 02:13 PM   #1
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Is a UV sterilizer right for me?

Hello everyone!

I have a 46 gallon "mildly" planted aquarium. I have about 8 seperate plants which are 6 different species. My bioload is a little on the heavy side but not over populated by ANY stretch of the imagination.

Less than a week ago my nitrites spiked through the roof. My API master test clocked the water at WELL over 5.0ppm. The test turned so dark purple it was almost opaque. I lost my Discus and baby Knife fish due to this but all of my other fish are perfectly fine (I purposefully chose VERY hardy species in case of something like this happening).

I did around a 90% water change on the tank, stirred up and vacuumed the gravel, and cleaned the filter after it sucked up the rest of the debris from the water. Filled it back up, treated it, added a pouch of pure live bacteria that I purchased from Petsmart, and "drop acclimated" my fish into the new water.

I tested the water again, and the nitrites were still off the chart. So since then I've been doing 10-20% water changes every day. I went back to Persmart and purchased Nitra-Zorb to put in my filter to see if that would lower anything. While I was there I also picked up Seachem Stability, as well as another pouch of live bacteria. I figured since I just did a full filter clean, gravel sweep, and huge water change I depleted all the "bene-bac" in the tank and restarted the cycle so I wanted to pump as much bacteria as I could into it to cycle it and to eat up the nitrites.

On the back of the stability bottle it said to turn off all UV/ozone systems. A lightbulb turned on inside my head after reading that. Could the reason why my nitrites were so high be because I could never establish a biological filter because the UV would kill them off before they had a chance to colonize? I then turned off the UV light, did two water changes during that day, added another pouch of bacteria, and added a double dose of stability and prime.

The next morning, viola! The nitrites FINALLY broke down to 1-2.0ppm. Still every day I am doing my 10-20% water changes along with my stability regimen and recharging my nitra-zorb every 2 days until they drop down to under 0.5ppm. I knew the UV sterilizer was the culprate. I had no bacteria in the tank therefore the nitrites just keep booming because there was nothing to stop them.

Well now, everything seems to be going well except for a little algae problem in the tank. It's not out of control or anything crazy, it just worries me because it's growing on my plants and I do not want them to die. On my rocks and on some plant leaves I have brown algae and a few spots of dark green. On a few plants and a few spots on the gravel the algae is so dark green it's almost blue. I can't tell if my plant leaves are browning and withering, or if that's just the algae.

I want to turn on my UV light for a few hours a day to see if that will limit the algae growth a bit, but I'm scared that I'm going to destroy my new bacteria colony I worked so hard to establish. What worries me the most is that where the light is situated in the filter is right next to the bio-star and ceramic ring tray. The brand of the filter is "Sun-Sun"(?) which I have NEVER heard of before, but for the price of a hang on the back filter you get a canister with three media trays, a UV sterilizer, and 290 gallons per hour circulation. So to me it seemed like a great deal.

But I'm worried that the UV light being so close to my bacteria trays was a design flaw. Does anyone have any input on this? Was I told incorrect information? What would you do in this situation? Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

Thank you SO much!
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Old 03-28-2016, 05:23 PM   #2
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I dont think a uv sterilzer will kill beneficial bacteria i have a aqautop sp40 hob filtwr with a built in sterilizer

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Old 03-28-2016, 09:25 PM   #3
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a UV sterilizer will kill beneficial bacteria, but only the bacteria that passes through the sterilizing area. The overwhelming majority of the bacteria lives on the filter media and tank decor, with a tiny amount living in the water column.

That being said, a UV sterilizer isn't necessary to run 24/7. I would only bother using one when there's a problem that it will solve. Without knowing what brand of sterilizer you have, I will go out on a limb and say it's not useful for much other than a green water bloom.

How long has this tank been set up?
How did you cycle the tank?
What have the ammonia readings been?
What fish are left in the tank?
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