Ultraviolet sterilizers are often used in aquaria and ponds to help control unwanted microorganisms in the water. Continuous sterilization of the water neutralizes single-cell algae and thereby increases water clarity. UV irradiation also ensures that exposed pathogens cannot reproduce, thus decreasing the likelihood of a disease outbreak in an aquarium. UV irradiation can also have a positive impact on an aquarium's redox balance.
Aquarium and pond sterilizers are typically small, with fittings for tubing that allows the water to flow through the sterilizer on its way from a separate external filter or water pump. Within the sterilizer, water flows as close as possible to the ultraviolet light source. Water pre-filtration is critical as water turbidity lowers UVC penetration. Many of the better UV sterilizers have long dwell times and limit the space between the UVC source and the inside wall of the UV sterilizer device.