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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's an e-mail question that I just received. I thought this question deserved its own folder and a public answer.

mpe1329 said:
Sorry to bother you, but I read with interest your advice re fish TB and UV sterilizers. My experience has been that SW fish are hard to kill and FW fish hard to keep alive, which seemed counter-intuitive to me until I read your posts. May I ask what type/brand of UV sterilizer you use? Any recommendations about the wattage of the bulb would also be appreciated.

My Response:

During the MB (mycobacteriosis) outbreak two years ago I used two different brands of UV sterilizers. They were the 'UV Gamma 'and the 'Turbo-twist' with either 8 or 9 watt bulbs for my 45, 50, and 55 gal tanks. One sterilizer for each tank. The UV sterilizers stopped the disease in its tracks and saved my fish.

While the above filters worked wonders, they were hard for me to hook up to the biofilters I use. You see, these particular UV filters are really just a container that directs water in a spiral path around the UV lamp. You have to pump water through them from a separate apparatus.

Recently, an experienced hobbyist on this forum highly recommended the Submariner UV sterilizer. This filter combines the UV and biofilter into one apparatus. I just bought one ($80) and am going to set it up for my 50 gal tank. It has a 7 watt UV lamp. I'm going to use this tank as a quarantine tank for new fish.

Folks, many fish being sold are carrying diseases. UV sterilizers will kill not only bacteria but many parasites (e.g. Ich). UV sterilization is being increasingly used in wastewater treatment. Recently, wastewater treatment scientists showed that UV light is highly effective in killing Giardia cysts, a human parasite. My reasoning: if UV sterilization kills human parasites and their cysts, it will probably kill fish parasites and their cysts. I think SW (saltwater) hobbyists are ahead of us on this.

One minor caveat for UV sterilizers.... UV sterilizers can interfere with iron uptake by non-rooted plants (UV light oxidizes the iron chelators). Thus, you may need to add some chelated iron if your plants show iron deficiencies. However, I had no problems with iron deficiency when I used the UV sterilizers in my NPT tanks.

Below is a website that has more information on brands of UV sterilizers:

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/Product/NavResults.cfm?N=2004&Np=1&Ntt=uv%20sterilizers&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=All&Nty=1&pc=1
 

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cool, I was going to buy the submarianer UV sterilizer but wasn't sure at its (UV in general) effectiveness. I'm definitely buying one asap.

oh, ps.. Any studies on its effectiveness with certain algae?
 

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Thanks for the information and advice. I'm a little leery of the in-tank UV unit you mentioned because I've had so many powerheads die on me in my reef days and I'm not sure if you can get a replacement for the pump if it does conk out. I'm also not crazy about JBJ products in general, and I believe they make (or more likely import) the submariner unit. I'll just do what I normally do in this situation -- obsessively research options on internet and then ignore it all and act on blind impulse. <g>
 

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Diane, great write up. Yet another reason why I would never do without my UV (turbo twist 9W). Check out the UV's at nanotuners.com. They have 2 different submersibles at a great price. They also have great customer service. I've bought from them before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
oh, ps.. Any studies on its effectiveness with certain algae?
Any UV sterilizer will kill green water algae. If it doesn't, there's something wrong with the UV lamp (too old), or its quartz glass housing needs to be cleaned.

The UV lamp zapps algae cells as the water passes through the filter. UV sterilizers are a mainstay for pond hobbyists to kill green water algae. It will not kill attached algae (hair and blue-green algae) for the simple reason that these algae don't pass through the filter.

Folks, UV light has a common killing mechanism for all cells. It kills by damaging RNA and DNA, two essential components of all living cells. Thus, UV light will kill many of the microorganisms, viruses, small parasites, and green-water algae that pass through the filter.

Newly purchased fish are often:

  • carrying disease organisms they've picked up along the way from fishfarm, fish wholesalers, aquarium store, etc
  • have not yet developed immunity to the microorganisms (natural flora) in your tank
  • severely stressed by transport

A UV sterilizer severely reduces the number of potential pathogens, so that the new fish has a chance to develop its immunity and fight off disease.
 

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Also, there have been situations of transmission of dangerous pathogens from aquarium water due to infected fish to a fishowner. The transmission occured because the fish owner was cleaning the aquarium, did not know about the pathogen, had an open cut or sore which served as an opening for the transmission. I wish I would have saved the link. There was an actual incidence of this happening in Quebec and as a matter of public health the government had to track down the infection. I believe it was a form of fish Tuberculosis where a trail of fish owners who had purchased infected fish from a pet store got it. It was traced back to infected stock that the pet store got from its import of fish from Asia. For me the very possiblity, no matter how remote of something like this happening makes a UV sterilizer a worthwhile investment. Better safe than sorry.

*****Edit: this is the link to the article that I was talking about:

OUTBREAK OF SALMONELLA PARATYPHI B LINKED TO AQUARIUMS IN THE PROVINCE OF QUEBEC, 2000
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/ccdr-rmtc/02vol28/dr2811ea.html

It was SALMONELLA PARATYPHI B not fish TB sorry.

Regards
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Amen, Brother!

The transmission of mycobacteriosis from aquarium fish to humans is relatively rare but can happen. The result is painful, slow-healing (2-12 months) sores on hands and arms.

One hobbyist in my aquarium society recently had a sliver on her finger that got infected after cleaning her tanks. The hobbyist's doctor was going to surgically remove the painful sore that just wouldn't go away. Just by chance, another hobbyist suggested it might be "Fish Tank Syndrome" and to check with a fish veterinarian. Sure enough, it was from the fish tanks! The doctor then put the hobbyist on the right antibiotics to heal the sore. Ironically, none of her fish appeared to be diseased.

Folks, a UV sterilizer will certainly help. In the meantime, wash your hands and arms soon (within 30 min) after cleaning tanks. If you have an open wound or are immuno-compromised, take extra precautions.
 

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Thanks for this thread!

How long should you use it in a TB infected tank? Indefinitely or when the fish have stopped succumbing? I made a post in your diseased fish thread. I don't know if you've read it but my endlers have it. They've stopped dying for now but a female is getting pretty big so, I check to make sure her tail isn't withering away. I know it'll never go away but am just wondering whether I should always use the UV and add some iron or not? The original inhabitants stopped dying and so, I thought they were healthy. They obviously weren't and had spread the disease while appearing in perfect health.

Thanks,
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for this thread!

How long should you use it in a TB infected tank? Indefinitely or when the fish have stopped succumbing? I made a post in your diseased fish thread. I don't know if you've read it but my endlers have it. They've stopped dying for now but a female is getting pretty big so, I check to make sure her tail isn't withering away. I know it'll never go away but am just wondering whether I should always use the UV and add some iron or not? The original inhabitants stopped dying and so, I thought they were healthy. They obviously weren't and had spread the disease while appearing in perfect health.

Thanks,
Just saw your post today.

I kept the UV sterilizer on 24 hr a day for about 4 months. A couple fish that were too far gone died, but a couple got better. Then... no more started showing symptoms. After awhile, the fish looked so good that I removed the UV sterilizers entirely from the 3 tanks.

The vet that diagnosed my fish also found that they had an Aeromonas infection as well as the TB (mycobacteriosis). Aeromonas is another bacteria that probably attacks fish weakened by TB (the two bacteria are frequently found together in diseased fish).

My experience suggests that all is not lost even if you do have diseased fish in your tank. A UV sterilizer will block transmission from one fish to the other. It will also reduce the fish's exposure to secondary pathogens (like the Aeromonas). Healthy fish can fight off small numbers of potential pathogens (Ich, TB, Aeromonas, etc) that are a natural part of their environment. A UV sterilizer could reduce the total potential pathogen population down to numbers a healthy fish (or maybe even a stressed fish) could handle.
 

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So, do you leave the UV on till the bulb dies?

Or do you leave it on for a week or until the visible symptoms go away?
I'm having issues with some unknown protozoan, maybe Oödinium of some sort.
 

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Personally I leave my UV on all the time. Too much upside and very little downside. If you have a cansister it's an invisible component your system. I look at the the UV as my best buddy who helps even the odds in a closed system where "perfect balance" is pretty much impossible.

I agree with what Diane with fish especially during the acclimation process when they are most stressed and their systems are compromised. One case in point. I have a school of cardinals in my tank for a long time (hence the name "House of Cards") Anyone when I first started establishing them I would buy 20 and maybe 10 would survive. I did this time and time again and the same result. I once got greenwater and purchased the UV for the primary purpose of getting rid of the GW and it did in a few days. The secondary benefit was that the tried adding more cards and to my amazement almost all survived. I purchased more from another source and I got the same result. I was achieving more like a 90% survival rate versus 50%. Two years later I still have many of the same fish. I can't remember the last time I had a sick fish. When someone asks me if I have a quarantine tank, I say, what's that!
 

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I have a question, isn't creating a sterile environment potentially harmful to the fish's immunity? If you look at what happened to Bryce's 180G outbreak, he had a UV sterilizer running 24/7 and eventually once a diseased fish was introduced into the tank the rest of the species died off rather rapidly. It begs the question, is having it on all the time necessary or is a couple of hours a day the better option?
 

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The whole thing? Surely, they'd send you a new bulb.
yeah, the bulb is incased in a glass/quartz tube. It needs a special device (i don't have) to open it or a wrench would work.. I'm afraid if I accidentally break the glass tube, the warranty from dr. foster&smith would be nullified. Just to be safe, i'm sending the whole thing.
 

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I have a question, isn't creating a sterile environment potentially harmful to the fish's immunity? If you look at what happened to Bryce's 180G outbreak, he had a UV sterilizer running 24/7 and eventually once a diseased fish was introduced into the tank the rest of the species died off rather rapidly. It begs the question, is having it on all the time necessary or is a couple of hours a day the better option?
This is something that still confuses me a bit. Mostly I think the epidemic happened becasue I started a "In my Planted Tanks Fish Never Get Sick" thread. Within about 3 minutes the whole thing was going belly-up. The huge outbreak started when I introduced some recently imported wild-caught rummynose. From what I observed, the attack seems to have started with a parasite. The fish first developed some nasty lesions. These looked like large, rock-salt sized granules on the flanks of the fish, especially the congo tetras. The more severely affected fish then went on to develop columnaris-type lesions. Most then progressed to death within a week or so. The rummies dropped much sooner - usually within a day or two of showing symptoms. They're a funny fish, seemingly schooling and eating up until a few minutes before they drop dead - not much warning - and the red nose never faded at all.

My corries never showed any problems at all. I lost 3 of 7 rams, 80% of the rummies, 50% of the congos, and recently one large SAE went missing that had demonstrated lesions for a couple of days. The remaining rummies (11) are apparently fine. A few congos have been showing rock-salt granules from time to time, but they come and go over time, the fish completely recovering after a few weeks. It bothers me that there are still signs of evil within the tank. A school of harlequins added a month ago are perfectly fine. I'd like to build up the rummy school again, but they're pretty hard to find around here and I'm reluctant to ever order again from my previous importer.

I keep my QT tank with regular tapwater which is fine for most fish, but rummies don't seem to handle the hard water and subsequent transition to the RO-supplied 180g tank as well. It's also a little small for 3 or 4 dozen new rummies all at once, which is why I took a chance with the large group before.

The UV has been running 24/7 this whole time, but the unit is quite undersized for effective treatment of water-borne parasites. It's only a 15W unit, sized to prevent green water outbreaks. For this task it seems to be doing fine. I'm actually thinking up upgrading to something much larger and moving this unit to a future 75g show tank for my waiting room.

What the display tank really needs is removal of all the fish for a time, treatment of the fish in separate hospital tanks, and eventual return of the symptom-free fish. I don't have the space, time, or patience for any of this so on and on we go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Here's an excellent question from Aquabillers regarding the UV thread:

"I thought the idea of the NPT approach was to simplify things. From the thread on UV filtering, it seems to make things more complicated.

Knock on wood, my fish don't get sick..."

I guess an NPT is anything you want it to be. I'm personally "fed up" dealing with diseases from fish I've purchased. I admit that I have been extremely negligent in not using a quarantine tank for new fish. But those carefree days are over!

My reason for promoting quarantine tanks and UV sterilizers: Too many hobbyists (with or without NPTs) get discouraged and quit the hobby when their fish become diseased and die. [And, I really would like to continue selling more books!]

The risk of disease when introducing new fish is enormous, and the consequences are so devastating. The UV sterilizer is one gadget I recommend for those that "want to keep it simple".

Otherwise, you've got hobbyists with sick fish desperately dumping antibiotics, permanganate, copper and all kinds of chemicals into their tank. In my experience, treating sick fish is often difficult, expensive, and/or doesn't work. A UV sterilizer can help prevent much of this turmoil and unpleasantness.

For those that have healthy fish and haven't had problems, I salute you! You obviously have a good source of healthy fish and take good care of your fish. But you've also had a little luck. I've purchased many fish from hobbyists and stores that didn't cause any problems. But its that one asymptomatic disease-carrier that can spoil it all.

I just put my brand-new UV Submariner into the 50 gal. It's really nice and very quiet. Yes, it costs a little more, and I'll have to buy a new bulb in a year. But oh, the Peace of Mind! I've put all the fish that "look a little funny" into this tank [my fish that survived the mycobacteriosis outbreak in 2004 are probably still carrying the disease and could be infectious.]

Mister Green, I'm so sorry that your UV bulb was broken. I'm sure the vendor will take care of you. If they don't, you let us know!
 

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Here's an excellent question from Aquabillers regarding the UV thread:

"I thought the idea of the NPT approach was to simplify things. From the thread on UV filtering, it seems to make things more complicated.

Knock on wood, my fish don't get sick..."

I guess an NPT is anything you want it to be. I'm personally "fed up" dealing with diseases from fish I've purchased. I admit that I have been extremely negligent in not using a quarantine tank for new fish. But those carefree days are over!

My reason for promoting quarantine tanks and UV sterilizers: Too many hobbyists (with or without NPTs) get discouraged and quit the hobby when their fish become diseased and die. [And, I really would like to continue selling more books!]

The risk of disease when introducing new fish is enormous, and the consequences are so devastating. The UV sterilizer is one gadget I recommend for those that "want to keep it simple".

Otherwise, you've got hobbyists with sick fish desperately dumping antibiotics, permanganate, copper and all kinds of chemicals into their tank. In my experience, treating sick fish is often difficult, expensive, and/or doesn't work. A UV sterilizer can help prevent much of this turmoil and unpleasantness.

For those that have healthy fish and haven't had problems, I salute you! You obviously have a good source of healthy fish and take good care of your fish. But you've also had a little luck. I've purchased many fish from hobbyists and stores that didn't cause any problems. But its that one asymptomatic disease-carrier that can spoil it all.

I just put my brand-new UV Submariner into the 50 gal. It's really nice and very quiet. Yes, it costs a little more, and I'll have to buy a new bulb in a year. But oh, the Peace of Mind! I've put all the fish that "look a little funny" into this tank [my fish that survived the mycobacteriosis outbreak in 2004 are probably still carrying the disease and could be infectious.]

Mister Green, I'm so sorry that your UV bulb was broken. I'm sure the vendor will take care of you. If they don't, you let us know!
Well said. For me life is all about risk vs benefits. When the benefits of doing something minimize or eliminate risk an in this case to the fish, not to mention to yourself, why wouldn't you do it? Unless you enjoy taking risks, in which case be prepared for possible consequences.
 
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