Nathan Hill checks out this latest offering from NEWA.
Now, UVs aren’t exactly a new idea. Pond owners have been using them (and often getting them wrong) for decades, and to aquarium owners they’re either loved or hated.
As a quick recap for those not familiar with UV, it can do one of a couple of things. At low exposure levels, it can help to clarify water from floating algae. At high, powerful exposures, it’ll kill, indiscriminately and effectively. Viruses, bacteria, parasites, whatever. If it’s water-borne and goes past a powerful enough UV, it’s getting nuked.
The benefit of the NEWA UV is the ease of use. It’s a hang on as opposed to requiring plumbing in, and for a lot of aquarists that’s the kind of difference between a bumper car and a Bentley.
Hard plumbed UVs can be awkward to work with, and once they’re in place they’re limited to use on one tank. Many are based on designs for pond use, making them messy to work with. Having clambered around in more than one sumped cabinet in my time, trying to change bulbs without cracking quartz sleeves, I’m happy to embrace anything that changes the rules a bit.
The NEWA system runs just like a hang on filter. A lip broaches the top of the tank, and a nozzle and inlet juts down into the water. The working parts of the UV sit outside the tank, on the back or side.
The design is simple, in a back to front kind of way. Usually, the emphasis in on water passing through a chamber, while the UV bulb resides in a quartz sleeve. NEWA have theirs the other way, with water passing through a horseshoe-shaped quartz pipe, with the UV sat in between the two straight edges. The real genius comes from the use of mirrors (hence the name). Inside the entire UV chamber, there’s a highly reflective aluminium screen, bouncing that UV back into the water where it’s needed.
Access to the working parts is beyond easy. Three sliding clips — one each side and one on the bottom — open up to let you split the entire unit in half. The pump pushes into place, making extraction and cleaning a doozy. Changing the 9W bulb (the same as used in pond clarifiers the world over) couldn’t be more straightforward. Remove cover, change bulb. You don’t even need a screwdriver, which is nice.
There’s a control on top that adjusts flow, with the pretence that higher flow will only impact clarity, while slower flow will bring in the sterilising effect.
As I see it, there are only a couple of downsides. The first, if you haven’t got an open-topped set up, then this isn’t going on the tank. But then, if you’ve got a sump, you can stick it on that instead.
The only other downside is that it guzzles up plug space. You need one plug for the bulb, plus another for the pump powering it all. It would have been nice to have one plug powering everything, but I guess that wasn’t an option.
Excellent if trying to control disease in a fish only set-up, I imagine that detractors will point out that UVs often blight the 'good stuff' in a reef set-up (like microscopic food for corals) and others might be put off by the price. It is steep for what it is, but if I had a £4,000 Clarion angel and was worried about whitespot, I might be thinking otherwise.
Ease of use:
Value for money: