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The Use of Ultra Violet (UV) Radiation in Aquaria systems

An article by Andreas Iliopoulos

Because quite a lot of debate exists considering the use of ultra violet radiation in aquatic systems, it is useful to comment on the safe and efficient way of its use.

One UV lamp is not a panacea if it is not used correctly based on the exact specifications of the manufacturer and also based on the intended use (even if this is the prevention of a disease or during the healing process). The ultimate target of UV radiation is the killing of specific aquatic pathogens. Thus, the UV lamps can be used for the prevention and/or treatment of bacterial infections, several kinds of fungal and viral infections as well as infections caused by parasites or even algae.

Their power is measured in μWatts (microWatts, one microWatt = one millionth of a Watt) but this is just one of the parameters that should be considered. Someone who is aiming at a safe and efficient use of UV radiation should also check the amount of the passing water (water flow) that must be achieved, the desired water volume that must be treated and the sort of pathogens that are to be fought.

Here, I present a list (*) of pathogens, along with the respective killing doses for them. Anyone can use this list to calculate the wattage and the flow rate which is needed to treat a specific problem, disease or pest in a system.

One must also know that wattage of the UV lamps is decreased in time and they should be normally replaced every six months (at least), so the wattage declared by the manufacturer will be constantly applied on the passing water thus rendering the UV lamp effective against the pathogens. Switching the UV lamp on and off (as with all lamps) is the main reason for this short period of useful life time.

ATTENTION: UV radiation can cause blindness (destroys the retina), so be sure that the lamps you use are properly isolated inside protective shields (specially made chambers for UV lamps) and try not to stare at a switched on lamp with naked eyes. Glass - strange as it may sound - blocks UV radiation.

BACTERIA

Killing dose (μW • s/cm²)

Bacillus anthracis (Anthrax bacillus)

8.700

B. megatherium species (veg)

2.500

B. megatherium species (spores)

5.200

B. pratyphosus

6.100

B. subtilis (mixed)

11.000

B. subtilis (spores)

22.000

Clostridium tetami

22.000

Corynebacterium, Deptheriae

6.500

Dysentery bacilli

4.200

Eberthela typhosa (Typhus bacillus)

4.100

Micrococcus candidus

12.300

M. piltonensis

15.000

M. spaeroides

15.400

Myxobacterium tuberculosis

10.000

Neisseria catarrhalis

8.500

Phytomonas tumefaciens

8.500

Proteus vulgaris

6.600

Pseudomonas aerugenosa

10.500

P. fluorescens

6.600

Salmonella species

10.000

S. enteritidis

7.600

S. typhimurium (ave)

15.200

Sarcina lutea

26.400

Serratia marcescens

6.160

Shigillia paradysenderiae

3.400

Spirillum rubsum

6.160

Staphylococcus albus

5.700

S. aureus

6.600

S. hemolyticus

5.500

Streptococcus lactis

8.800

S. viridans

3.800

YEAST

 

Saccharomyces ellipsoideus

13.200

Saccharomyces. species

17.600

S. cerevisiae

13.200

Brewer’s Yeast

6.600

Baker’s Yeast

8.800

Common Yeast Cake

13.200

MOLD SPORES

 

Penicillium roqueforti

26.400

P. expansum

22.000

P. digitatum

88.000

Aspergillus glaucus

88.000

A. flavus

99.000

A. niger

330.000

Rhisopus nigricans

220.000

Mucor racemosus A

35.200

M. racemosus B

35.200

Oospora lactis

11.000

VIRUSES

 

Bacteriophage (Eserichia coli)

6.600

Tobacco mosaic

440.000

Influenza

3.400

 PROTOZOA

 

Paramecium

200.000

Nematode Eggs

92.000

Chlorella vulgaris (άλγη)

22.000

FUNGI

45.000

NOTE:  μW•s/cm² = microWatts x seconds per square centimeter. The average UV lamp with a wattage of eight Watts (8 W), measure about 11½ “ (about 30 cm) and have an output of 12.500 μW•s/cm². This means that if a fungus is our target, it should remain exposed to its radiation for at least 4 seconds in order to be killed, hence the need to calculate the flow rate.

(*) The list was obtained by RAINBOW-LIFEGUARD Aquatics.

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