Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central

I was forwarded a recent thread from Reef Central where by moderators & forum members went on another of their misinformation binges.


RELATED ARTICLE:
Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Vecton, Advantage


From:
http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2449440

In this binge, a Reef Central member made one of the more laughable misinformation statements I have ever read online.

QUOTE: “While AquaUV is not the cheapest UV on the market, like the link you provided say, they are quality units with great dwell time. What they fail to mention is their great support. Same can be said about Emperor Aquatics. Something that is non existent with Tropical Marine Centre who is over seas and depends exclusively on retailers for support.”

Sorry dude, TMC support is superior just because it is retailer based.
Let me ask readers what would rather have as a return policy using a laptop computer as an example:
You have a choice between two laptops of similar value, with one it can be brought back to the store for an exchange or parts replacement, or the other you have to send away to the manufacturer and wait several weeks to get your laptop back?
I think most would take the first quicker option; sorry dude.

Do not believe me, here’s a link to their warrant returns page:
http://www.aquaultraviolet.com/sites/default/files/instructions/Instructions%20Classic%20and%20Twist%20Series%20UV%2005-19-09.pdf

Let me address a few more comments from this terrible thread of misinformation.

  • This same character, makes more misinformation statements.
    “That said, the units mentioned in your links are cheap units meant to appeal the masses. Not necessarily quality units and they don’t have the same kind of dwell time as the higher end units from AquaUV or Emperor.”

    While admittedly the Aqua Ultraviolet and Emperor are excellent (I have used these too), the TMC is NOT a cheap unit meant to appeal to the masses, a quick peak on eBay or Amazon will find plenty of these cheap units often for under $50 such as the AquaTop, Killing Machine, and many others. These are cheap.
    The facts are the dwell time is the highest of any UV with the TMC Vecton, in fact higher than some of Emperors Smart UVs which use very short lamps and short exposure times.

    Has this guy even done a dwell time test?
    Has he even done his homework, such as reading the article he so conveniently bashes out of hand with ad hominem attacks on the author by him and others?

  • Here is another of this guys statements:
    “Here is the Tropical Marine Centre UV unit that I used to run on my tank. At the time, it was one of the only higher wattage units out there that used a crystal sleeve. These units are now relegated to Tropical Marine Centre’s commercial product line and not readily available in the states. The AquaUV’s equivalent (Classic Series) is better made, easier to service and backed by much better support. The comparable AquaUV is also much cheaper.”

    Incorrect again!!
    Does this guy do ANY HOMEWORK AT ALL? If so he gets an F.

    The TMC 110 UV is readily available in the USA for under $400 in some locations or websites.
    Since my commitment to readers of my website blog post is to not commercialize my results by posting links to resellers, I will simply state these are not difficult to find online.

    Reef Central, What should I do UV, Large TMC Sterilizer

    As for support, I have already addressed this falsehood, but will add that I have NEVER had an issue with parts or returns for ANY TMC product from lights, FSB filters, or their UV Sterilizers. This includes one rare instance of a hairline crack in the body for which I was given a brand new UV sterilizer, NO SHIPPING BACK FOR REPAIRS!!

  • This one is from a Reef Central Moderator:
    But does sell them, and is trying awfully hard to the make them out to the be best thing since sliced bread. While they can indeed be useful in some circumstances, they are not the wonder equipment with all the attributes he gives them.”

    This comment is not so bad IMO, since he is simply stating an opinion as an opinion.
    However I have read this article quoted and do not get the same thing at all out of the article or other articles published by the author.
    He clearly recommends “True” UV Sterilizers as he calls them as a useful tool, which includes other tools such as quarantine.
    As well we have another case of someone who appears to not research outside of Reef Central or even read an article in question or its cited references, otherwise he would never make such statements of “opinion”.

  • “Even so, the UV will have some impact on pods as well despite the high flow rates.”

    What are the “pods” doing in the water column?
    Has he heard of pre-filtration which is an essential ingredient for correct UV Sterilizer application?

    Sorry one again; WRONG!!

  • “Keep in mind, that article is written by a guy selling UV units.”

    A typical liberal ad hominem argument whereby you attack the person rather than the facts or cited resources.

    This has no bearing on the credibility of the article assuming the facts and references are sound.

    Using his own terminology: Keep in mind, that there is always a money trail anywhere, some are just less obvious or down right sneaky.
    Does this guy work for free, does he not expect the author to sell what he found to be a superior product?

    Back to following the money, Reef Central is supported by sponsorships; have you ever noticed that a member will get the “ban hammer” for speaking negatively against EcoTech, one of Reef Central’s major supporters?

I would say in the end, use common sense logic, actually do your homework, not give lip service like these members of Reef Central do.
Also do not depend upon Google for good search results when doing your research, since they too are beholden to deliver readers to their pals such as Amazon or others. Consider DuckDuckGo who does not spy on you and use your information to track your habits!

Further Reading/References:

#UV STERILIZATION; UVC Irradiation for Pond, Aquarium

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Aquarium Forums for Information such as Lighting, UV, Filters

This is a subject that is way overdue to be discussed, as aquarium forums often are like our mainstream news media which simply repeat information, whether accurate or not that fits their template.
Often with intentional miss-information based on broken links by moderators after members provide said links such as to this website or even taking down of legitimate questions by members such as I witnessed as the Chicago Reefs forum (based on a forwarded email for a aquarium maintenance & research professional).

The video below from the Conan Show makes this point, and aquarium forums are no different, if not far worse:

I have seen this unfortunate statement in many forums when I have been told to read in emails from friends or clients:
“I havent really been able to find any info on the TMC lights, and i assume that if they’re as good as they say they are then a lot more people would be using them.”

Similar comments have been made about Fluidized Sand Bed Filter versus wet dry filters even though the FSB filter is clearly the better technology for planted freshwater aquariums when simple science is applied. It is also noteworthy that FSB filters AND TMC AquaRay lights ARE quite well known and used if you search beyond an aquarium forum.

Why is this?
First threads such as the one on Chicago Reefs get deleted, but more importantly if all you do is use forums to get your information, even if you only “lurk” there, you are going to find the same repetitive points about the same products they all push, often due to sponsorship by certain brands or simple lack of research “outside the box”
Looking at it another way, if it does not meet the forum’s agenda, often threads will get deleted

Another common problem is since search engines often give “authority” to websites or forums posts based on age, often what comes up in forums or Yahoo is simply out of date information. Some of these outdated posts may have been correct at the time, while others have been proven incorrect as science has progressed.
Thankfully the Internet is not 100 years old or God knows what in terms of bs would be argued as fact based on someone reading an outdated forum article!

Back to sponsorships/marketing and how different marketing methods have a direct bearing on what will be seen/read on a forum or not, as some companies use a different approach to marketing that does not involve forum sponsorships.
TMC for instance placed an emphasis on getting their product in the hands of aquarium installation professionals rather than forum sponsorships with the exception of a popular UK forum.

What readers should understand, and frankly this is not difficult for those with an open mind and have not drank the Kool-Aid so many forums serve, and that is these “outside the box” products are NOT going to be featured in ANY forum, even though they ARE popular among many who are not active in forums or other social media.

My clients are very private and refuse me to publicize any of their aquariums in pictures, even for a resume, so my referrals are all by word of mouth (I currently am not taking new clients anyway).

This is not all that unusual and in fact as an example from a story my mentor in the business told me about how once he was setting up an acrylic aquarium with tubes between two tanks and he brought his then wife to this executive office waiting room. She really could not help much at the time so she quietly sat on the couch . However soon one of the executives that worked there told her she had to leave, my mentor tried to explain, but he quickly told my mentor how important the privacy of their office was and that he needed permission to bring anyone other than himself.

My point is this is typical of how many view their aquariums maintained by these professionals, so you are not going to see many of these aquariums running AquaRay LED lights, FSB filters since these have never been really pushed or made it past the Kool-Aid gate keepers at many aquarium forums.

What is also unfortunate that even with this shroud around aquariums set up by professionals using these products, there is still ample information and pictures in websites such as this, Youtube, Facebook and other locations. Part of the issue or so it appears, since I am actually relatively new to being “active” on the Internet is the point that Google is not all that good in bringing up many science based websites , rather is heavy in many social media such as forums or big box websites such as Dr. Foster or Amazon. I personally use Bing though for my searches, while I have a friend who swears by DuckDuckGo.com for internet searches.

Although the purpose of this post/article is to explain to those who only read forums or cannot get past page one of Google that there IS PLENTY of information for those willing to do even the most basic of research, I will make some brief explanation of products that often get the cold shoulder in these Kool Aid serving forums.

  1. Aquarium LED Lighting

    Some of the most basic of science is ignored in these forums, here is just some of it:

    • Wasted Heat energy; this is science 101 that any energy that is being dissipated with fans is energy that is NOT going to light energy, thus requiring more wattage for the same results.
      If you see a fan or two blowing, you know that this is extracting heat.
      As well PWM, while more complicated also plays a role in this wasted energy as well as potentially changing the spectrum and thus wasting even light energy outside of the best known PUR.
    • Utilizing green emitters and other emitters (including warm white) that are known to emit light energy outside of what is optimum for corals and other photosynthetic life forms.
      While photosynthetic life can generally use most all light within the PAR range, it is fact that certain light spectrums are much less efficient and provide different aspects of photosynthetic response.

      Reference & recommended reading:
      PUR, PAS, PAR in Aquarium Reef/Planted Lighting

    • Heavy dependency on PAR meters, even though it is a fact that even a PAR meter is more accurate in the middle ranges, thus giving a green light a higher PAR value than an actinic blue, even though the blue is going to have a higher useful PAR and thus is higher in PUR.
      As well, statements by some that absurdly high PAR numbers such as 500 µMol•m²•sec are required by Acropora, when in fact a study at a Coral Farm in Bali showed no more than 200 PAR from noontime tropical sunlight at the depth the Acropora were being grown.
      These numbers may be true for some poor PUR lights that are heavy in green, yellow, etc. light energy, but not those with better PUR spectrums.

      Reference:
      PAR vs PUR in Aquarium LED Lighting

    • Warranties; while this is not a scientific argument, it is one of simple logic and that is why would a the so-called superior LED light only have a warranty of 1 year while the so-called junk LED have a warranty of 5 years?
      This is a real head scratcher, yet forums such as Reef Central or PNWMAS will actually bash the 5 year warranty lights over the 1 year warranty lights!!
      Part of the problem with these shorter warranty LED lights is fan malfunction. The fans on some LEDs will malfunction in a couple of years (or less), resulting in over heating of circuitry and total failure of the LED fixture.

      While a warranty does not necessarily make for a better LED light, as I personally really like the Aqua Illumination HD Twenty Six [with only a 1 year warranty], but it speaks volumes for fixture longevity

    • Reference:
      Aquarium LED Warranties

    Below is a reef aquarium I was given permission to share utilizing ONLY AquaRay NP 1500 & 2000 tiles.

    Acropora Reef Aquarium running AquaRay AquaBeam LED Lights, Lighting

    A couple of recommended related reads:
    ~Zoanthid Reef Aquarium Care & Lighting
    ~Acropora Coral Information and Care; Lighting, Amino Acids, more

  2. Aquarium Fluidized Sand Bed Filters

    Fluidized Sand Bed Filter in sump, planted aquariumThese really are not all that new, with many large commercial operations running these filters.
    What might be more new is the design, with better models such as the V2 Bio by TMC now available than what was the industry leader 10 years ago, the LifeGuard.

    What sets these filters apart, especially for marine or planted aquariums? With Wet/Dry filters, in particular, these will strip CO2, often resulting in the need for expensive pressurized CO2 units, that are often not required with FSB Filters.

    The planted aquarium below is running with a FSB filter with only Flourish Excel the only carbon supplement (it is also using AquaRay GroBeam LED lights):

    Planted aquarium with LED Lights, Fluidized Sand Bed Filter

    With marine aquariums, the V2 FSB Filter can be run with optional Oolitic sand which then works similar to a calcium reactor in maintaining calcium, pH, and alkalinity with less additional supplementation.
    As well these can be set up to control and remove nitrate with a tall enough filter such as the V2 #1500 and use of products such as American Aquarium NPX Bioplastics.

    References, including earlier posts from this website:
    Fluidized Sand Bed Filter or Canister Filter
    Aquarium Fluidized Bed Filter Review; TMC V2, Merlin, Lifeguard

  3. Aquarium UV Sterilizer Use

    This is too long a topic to address completely other than to state that there is good evidence that a UV Sterilizer does not just control disease by virtue of level 1 or 2 UVC sterilization, but by improving the Redox Balance than thus allowing fish to fight off diseases with their own improved immune system better.

    What many miss based on conversations with clients and others is they go and purchase some piece of junk UV clarifier that CANNOT ever perform level one UV Sterilization. Unfortunately many of these so called UV Sterilizers abound from the Green Killing machine to the many AquaTop UVs. Then they see poor or no results and make blanket statements in forums that UV sterilizers are only good for clarification.

    Another common issue is purchasing low UVC output UV replacement lamps on eBay, Amazon, etc that only produce 7-14% germicidal UVC light energy instead of a true level one low pressure UV Bulb that has 5 times the output and in the end make claims their UV sterilizer is junk.

    Reef Central:
    Misinformation also abounds when it comes to the discussion of high end UV Sterilizers and which are best and what they can and cannot do for your aquarium.
    This is where the anecdotal but unfortunately popular forum “Reef Central” is often at its worse.

    I have read many posts my customers or other service guys have sent me where this forum personally attacks those with actual experience and science based expertise rather than deal with the science. Similar to their Reef Police moderation when it comes to LED aquarium lighting.

    I have read where high level members/moderators will bash TMC UVs while promoting Aqua & Emperor UVs.
    As someone who also has used all three, I can state that they all are excellent premium UVs, but to trash the TMC, which seems to be the brand they love to trash, shows the lack of character and honesty that goes on at Reef Central.

    As an example, one argument they have used is that only Aqua & Emperor provide a good supply of parts and good customer service. However TMC does as well and my experience with obtaining parts and service since retailer based versus manufacturer based is much better with TMC.

    I could go on, but that is not the scope of this article, all I can say is to read anything at Reef Central with a grain of salt.

    References, including earlier posts from this website:

    Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central; THIS ONE IS A MUST READ!!
    UV STERILIZATION; UVC Irradiation for Pond, Aquarium
    Are UV Sterilizers Good for an Aquarium?
    Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond

In the end, here is an incomplete list I have compiled of aquarium forums I would NOT recommend based on reading and interviews with professionals in the industry (in no particular order):

  • Reef Central
    So MANY reasons
  • Nano Reefs
    Again, so MANY reasons
  • Fish Lore
    Ref. FishLore; Review, such as Melafix Dangers, Planaria
  • “Fish Doctors Reef and Aquarium Health” (Facebook)
    Very anecdotal, little real help, & attack those with good information with logical fallacies such as Ad Hominem & Red Herring attacks
  • PNWMAS
    Basically the same as the above forum (except for the immature part)
  • United Tanks of America
    No Real Moderation when problems arise. Friend in industry refused to elaborate otherwise

Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Vecton, Advantage

Aquarium & Pond UV Sterilizer Review; Aqua & TMC Vecton & Advantage

(Further Information Added to this post, 12/6/14)

I’ve used many different ultraviolet Sterilizers over the years; some great, some ok, some were only clarifiers (although often sold as sterilizers), and some simply junk.

One model I used many of is the Coralife Turbo Twist compact UV Sterilizer. These worked for both clarification and more important TRUE UV sterilization reasonably well, although far from the best though when compared to other UV Sterilizers.
However, later I had would find the ballasts to fail and nearly a 100% rate with newer models. So although a popular UV Sterilizer, I cannot recommend it.
For a Compact UV, I’ve had better results from the SunSun & Via Aqua Terminator Compact UVs both in measured results and quality of build.

Also read my newer article where I call out some severe misinformation put forth by Reef Central:
Aqua Ultraviolet versus TMC UV Sterilizers, Reef Central

NOW FOR MY REVIEW:

TMC VECTON & ADVANTAGE UVs:

TMC Vecton UV Sterilizer Line
This brings me to the TMC Line of UV Sterilizers; including the Pond Advantage and Vecton Aquarium.
Further Reading: TMC Premium Vecton and Advantage Aquarium and Pond UV Sterilizer, Clarifiers; Information

I’ve not had ANY better results with other UV Sterilizer as per TRUE UV Sterilization (level 1 & 2) as well as more basic clarification.
Also parts are readily available at fair prices unlike so many other UV Sterilizer where the ballast, quartz sleeve, or UV Replacement Bulb, Lamp can cost half or more of what a new TMC UV Sterilizer will cost.

UV Bulb Reference Guide Link: UV Bulbs, Bulb Guide

 

Vecton Ultraviolet Sterilizer mounted under aquariumAnother positive of the TMC Vecton and Advantage UVs is the construction of the unit as the Vecton and Advantage PRO Pond UVs are among the most solid UVs I have ever used. The construction also lends itself to easy repair when or if this becomes necessary.
Although the way the electrical ends connect to the lamp pins, does lend itself to easy disconnect, but this is a minor issue that only happens with rough handling and is easily corrected by simply pushing the connector back into the lamp pins.

I have had almost NO leaky UVs, especially in the area of the simple but well designed hose barb O-Rings, unlike many other units.
As well parts such as ballasts, quartz sleeves, O-Rings, and much more are readily available online or elsewhere at reasonable prices as I already noted; again unlike many even otherwise quality units where the cost of a ballast or quartz sleeve is nearly as much as a new UV Sterilizer!

Again, I am not knocking the effectiveness of many other UVs such as the Aqua Ultraviolet or Emperor UV, but when price of the Sterilizer unit and parts are factored in, the TMC has been a no-brainer for me when a customer asks me to install the best UV possible and still stay within an agreed upon budget.

Pond Advantage UV Sterilizer, Clarifier Review There are other OK to good UVs such as the SunSun Terminator, Tetra and a few others, but these do NOT match the dwell time of the TMC Vecton or Advantage.
In fact I have changed out Tetra 18 Watt UVs running customer ponds that struggled to keep the pond clear and replaced this UV with a LOWER wattage TMC 15 Watt Pond Advantage and observed immediate results that we better the the Tetra UV.

The reason for the improvement in pond clarity was simple, the TMC Advantage and Vecton have the highest UVC dwell times of any UV Sterilizer, BAR NONE. Although some such as the Aqua Ultraviolet can equal the TMC Vecton and Advantage for dwell time.

Let me list the positives & negatives of the TMC Vecton and Pond Advantage True UV Sterilizers:

  • Positive; The highest UVC Dwell time of ANY UV Sterilizer sold, allowing for much higher flow rates that the vast majority of UVs sold while still maintaining true level 1 or even 2 sterilization
  • Positive; Readily available parts, at reasonable prices
  • Positive; Uses highest UVC output low pressure mercury UV Bulbs/Lamps, unlike many of the Chinese brand UVs sold.
    Further Reading: Actual UV-C Emission from a UV Bulb; Aquarium or Pond
  • Positive; Durable construction with VERY long life ballasts
  • Negative; Lamp pin connections can come loose with rough handling
  • Negative; Can be difficult to tell if on in a brightly lit room or in bright daylight for a pond application. Usually I either shield the light or more simply, remove a few screws and open the top to check for correct lamp function
  • Positive; A true UV Sterilizer in a market that is more and more flooded with UV clarifiers masquerading as UV Sterilizers

The bottom line from my use of dozens (if not 100s) of UVs in aquariums and ponds, I have found no match for effectiveness, durability, and even value/reasonable price when one considers the quality of this top notch aquarium and pond UV Sterilizer.

Of course there are the many poor UVs too such as the over-rated Coralife Turbo Twist.
Worse yet, the Pure junk AquaTop and Jebo line of UVs just to name a few.
Many of these low end internal/submersible and Hang-On UV Filters have a very short life span, sometimes only 6 months from my experience.
As well even when working these UVs are only capable of Clarfication, NOT level one UVC sterilization! In other words these low end, low cost imports are NOT true UV Sterilizers.

Further Reading:
UV Sterilizers to Avoid; Jebo, Submariner, Laguna, Sunterra, Pondmaster Submersible
AquaTop Hang On Filter, UV Review

Please reference this excellent review for more details about the hows and whys of TMCs UV Sterilizers:
TMC Vecton and Advantage UV Sterilizer Review

Aqua 15 Watt UV Sterilizer, Clarifer for Aquarium or Pond
Aqua Ultraviolet

A good but over priced model is the Aqua line of pond and aquarium ultraviolet sterilizers.
These are well constructed, with good dwell time resulting in efficient sterilization and clarification.
One complaint I do have on some models is the wiper; these really do NOT do a good job at clearing calcium buildup, sometimes getting stuck too. As well since proper maintenance is every six months, despite some websites statements to the contrary, I would skip the wiper feature and simply properly clean the Quartz Sleeve ever six months. I would also suggest a back flush your UV monthly in pond applications.

The 2nd complaint I have is simply price for the UV and parts. The parts are often proprietary too forcing me or other users to pay crazy prices for parts that can often be found for much less with other UV Sterilizers that are not proprietary with their parts.

When you compare a 15 Watt Aqua at about $175 to a 15 Watt TMC Advantage or Vecton at $135 to $155 which with their longer UVC Bulbs and higher dwell time at the same flow rate; to me the better choice is the TMC UV Sterilizers.
Worse (in price, not effectiveness) is the Aqua 120 watt pond or aquarium system UV Sterilizer priced at $800+.
While certainly an effective UV, I’ve found the similar 110 Watt TMC PRO Pond Advantage just as effective at half the price ($400-$500).

The final issue I have is the claim by Aqua UV: “longest lamp life on the market”. This is a half truth from my knowledge and use of UVs. To make a longer life UV lamp/bulb results in less output of 254nm UVC irradiation during the life of the UV lamp.
Better is a high output Hot Cathode UV germicidal bulb that should be replaced every 6 months for aquariums or 6-12 months for ponds. You will maximize your effectiveness of your UV Sterilizer.