Aquastep Pro Ultraviolet Sterilizers: Basics

Recently, Lifeguard changed the design of the Aquastep Pro UV system to make it a  modular design so all of the parts could be replaced as they degrade from the constant exposure to the UV radiation. The new design allows the consumer to replace the top or bottom  housing plus the main housing  body. The Pro system comes as either a 15W or 25W UV sterilizer. The UV bulb will need replacement after approximately 12 months of operation. Both units have the same parts except for the UV bulb and the UV ballast. The basic design allows the unit to be used as a hang-on unit or as an inline unit. When used as a hang-on, the UV system uses a mounting bracket/clamp to fit over the trim of most aquariums or sump systems and includes a 1/2″ hose barb and waterfall return spout to hang over the water. They also include a 4 foot section of 1/2″ ID flexible hose that connects to the outlet of a water pump of your choosing. For inline use, they include two 1/2″ hose barb connectors that will fit  either 1/2″ ID or 5/8″ ID flexible hose of most canister filters. The Aquastep design allows the compact unit (approx 23″ tall) to get three times the length contact time between the water and the UV radiation to increase the effective kill dose. The quartz sleeve is shaped like a test tube and kept in place and  water tight by a compression gasket and lock nut. The UV bulb is suspended in the quartz test tube. This allows the bulb to burn at the proper temperature to maximize the efficiency of the bulb. It also allows the user to change the bulb without disconnecting the unit from the water pump/canister. This will make it possibly the most user friendly UV system on the market.

Aquastep Pro Ultraviolet Sterilizers: My Experience

I originally bought my 15W Aquastep to be used on a 20 gallon quarantine tank I use for all saltwater fish or freshwater fish. I used it as a hang-on unit, powered by a Maxi-Jet 600 powerhead. I also placed a 1/2″ Ball Valve on the outlet of the pump so I could slow down the flow rate to get a higher kill dose with the UV when needed. When using the UV to treat any possible bacterial infections I would run the pump at full speed. If I was worried about a parasite infestation, I would slow the flow rate down to about 20 GPH to get a high enough kill dose to kill the parasites. When using it on the quarantine tank I would run the UV 24/7 for a minimum of 3 weeks. When not in use on the quarantine tank, for general aquarium care I would sometimes place the hang-on UV on one of my display aquariums and run it for 2 to 3 days as a “preventative”. It is important to run the UV continuously long enough to ensure enough “turns” of the total water volume to be effective. I won’t go into all the math involved, but the time it takes to get 99.99% of the water to have gone through the UV at least once is equal to:

(volume of water treated divided by flow rate of the pump) times 9.2 hours.

For example, if you have a 100 gallon aquarium and a water pump rated at 200 GPH, the total time would be (100/200) X 9.2 = 4.6 hours. This would give you about 5 turns per day (24/4.6) which is enough to be effective. It is generally considered good to have at least 2 turns per day, more if treating a bacterial infection.

Aquastep Pro Ultraviolet Sterilizers: My pet peeves

I really like the Aquastep and find it to be extremely effective and easy to operate. I wish (all) manufacturers would give kill dose versus flow rate charts, because the “ratings” are usually for a fairly low kill dose at a fairly high flow rate, not necessarily what the hobbyist needs. You can usually find the information you need on the web, but it makes it difficult for the novice buyer to make the correct choise for their needs. My biggest peeve is the fact that the newer Pro version uses different parts for the quartz sleeve and bulbs from the older Aquasteps, making buying replacement parts much more difficult. Unless you are one of those rare breeds of hobbyist who actually keep your manual for the unit and can give the correct part numbers to your vendor.

My Grade:  A-  Needs better documentation.

About The Author Don Roberts

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