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bosco’s Reef Casa Vila 24 build


boscoT

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I’m going to start a post to document my trials and tribulations while I get back into the hobby after 12 years.  I’m sure that I will have a ton of questions as I go along and hope that this will help others as they enter into or back into this addictive little hobby.  
 

I started looking at biocube as I have owned a few of them over 12 years ago.  That lead me to Fluval 13.5 but the dimensions just didn’t work for me.  I stumbled along fragboxtv on YouTube and found that their store was only an hour away from me.  I began reading about their tank called Reef Casa. 
 

I wanted the biggest tank that my night stand could fit. The dimensions allowed me to put a 15gal cube. I cut out a cardboard mock up of the dimensions and found the tank to be a bit tight on my stand.  
 

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through further reading on the Reef Casa site I came across the vila 24.  The dimensions were 23.6x16x14 and I thought that would be awesome but way too big for my area.  The site said that the tank was designed specifically for the dimensions of a popular IKEA modular stand called BESTA.  
 

I have 48” beside the bed and my wall.  My wife wanted the tank in the room but didn’t want me adding a separate stand.  The BESTA had a 47” stand that could double as a night stand.  I designed the modular unit at IKEA with the intent of one side being the tank stand.  
 

this stand perfectly fits the Vila 24 as the Reef Casa site stated. 
 

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I really want this set up to be my dream build.  I have had massive tanks and smaller 8 gal reef tanks.  I love fish too so wanted as large of a tank that would fit.  I think this is their largest tank currently. 
 

I cut some 2x4 reinforcements for the bottom of the stand to support the weight. Each side of the tank is resting on support pieces for the modular stand. 
 

I made an open door under the sand with shelf to house all of my gear.  
 

My initial purchase list includes the following:

 

Reef Casa Villa 24gal AIO tank

uogrades for this tank include 

SICCI 1.0 return pump 

Reef Casa media basket 

Reef Casa dual random flow generator

Aquael 100w ceramic heater

Reef Casa mesh lid

 

AI prime 16HD with rigid stand

AI Nero 3 wave maker 

Tunze osmolator 3155 ATO

 

reef Casa large  bio media cubes and marine pure media gems for media basket.  
 

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im going to use the included Reef Casa return pump for my salt bucket.  Just need to grab a small heater for the bucket when I make salt for water changes.  
 

I plan on adding a Tunze 9004 skimmer I’m a few months when needed.  I also think that I am going to get an echo tech versa dosing pump for all for reef when it comes time.  
 

my plan was to wait until October to set up as I was away for work. That changed recently so I decided to get it going this weekend.  I plan on a 4 to 6 week cycle before adding anything to the tank.  

more to come…

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I have been doing a ton of reading and think that I will add a second prime 16HD light in a few weeks.  I am running a setting that I got from Facebook AI group.  It’s a bit blue for my liking. I’m old school and like a bit more white light.  I’ll try and find a file that looks more like old halide lights from years ago.  
 

I went to buy some RO water and was shook with the cost. I sold my old spectra when I got out of the hobby years ago.  So on Friday I picked up a new Spectra RO/DI unit 90GPD

 

I have been looking everywhere for good live rock.  I used to buy cases of live rock from Fiji for super cheap. I didn’t know that it’s no longer available. That sucks….

 

I went to 5 LFS and only one has some garbage live rock covered in algae.  So I went with caribsea life rock.  I picked up 20 lbs at 8.99lb CAD.  I only ended up using 15 pounds as I’m trying to achieve a minimalist aqua scape.  I used 15 lbs and took back 5lbs for refund. I’d like to get a few small pieces of live rock to help

seed the tank. I just need to find a place that I trust with quality.  
 

I ended up smashing off a few little pieces on one rock to make the piece fit better.  I also picked up caribsea live sand 20 lbs and used approximately 15lbs.  Little critters running around the sand already.  That was surprising for me to see.  
 

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this is my initial idea.  I think I may add the nano arch to the left side to balance the scape out.  But overall I am pretty pleased with this design.  Let me know what you think with respect to adding an arch to the left side from the island rock back left to the main structure.  

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I made 30gal of RO/DI water and added everything to the tank.  I have decided to use the blue bucket Red Sea Salt water. I likely won’t use the reef salt at this point as I plan on dosing with an additive in the future. 
 

To my surprise, my RO/DI order came with some free goodies including a large filter sock. I put that in the intake chamber in the back of the tank to help with some of the cloudy water and debris.  
 

really struggling to keep the water flow in the right return chamber.  The levels keep dropping from what I can only assume is water flow.  
 

turns out the SICCI wasn’t turned up all the way creating less flow.  
 

After 24 hours, I removed the sock and added the media basket.  I packed the bio gems to tight and this really messed up water flow.  I removed one section from the media basket to make a larger are for the gems.  This improved flow.  
 

I have one compartment left for carbon. I put in the Reef Casa shelf for the filter floss.  The included diverter is a touch small for my tank.  So I added a piece of sponge to help keep it in place.  
 

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without this diverter, the intake is really loud.  This was almost an issue where I was going to remove the media basket.  But this solution worked perfectly.  
 

now that the salt water is stable at 1.025 I have added the bacteria and aminos from Reef Casa to cycle the tank.  
 

The tank is still cloudy but starting to improve slightly.  I added the Nero 3 today and made a schedule that changes every six hours. This should help with water movement. The Nero 3 is very powerful.  I’m running between 35% and 45% and the flow is about perfect.  I will adjust once corals start getting introduced in a few months.  I mounted the unit in the back wall.  I was worried about the magnet being submerged.  I decided to vacuum seal the magnet with my food saver.  AI does not recommend submerging the rear magnet so this should help.  
 

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as the water is getting clearer it is becoming more obvious that the nano arch will help balance my scape.  
 

thoughts or suggestions welcomed please!!! 

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Today I decided to add the ATO to the tank.  I won’t call the setup tricky but I won’t call it easy. The magnets drove me crazy today. I couldn’t for the life of me get the magnet to cooperate.  I had to settle on the magnet connecting to the corner of the ATO rack.  
 

i added the ATO rack to the return chamber. I really don’t like these magnets.  
 

i am using a 12qt Cambridge container that I had in the basement not being used.   I am also using a larger cambro bin in the stand for wet gear that I use.  This will avoid damaging the stand.  
 

I only added 4qts until I can fully say that I trust the ATO.  Great reviews; however, reviews don’t save floors…
 

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I drilled a few holes and focused on cable management.  I faced the measurement to help keep track on evaporation levels. 
 

I am surprised how much the ATO kicks on. I guess this is a bit of a downfall for an open too tank. 
 

I also mounted the AI Nero switch today on the left side.  I had a temp gun from Thermoworks that I used for my pizza oven.  I’m going to use this for keeping an eye on the tank temps.  It is a pretty high end unit and very reliable.   
 

I have a cheap hydrometer for now.  I really want the Hannah digital salt water probe.  But the reviews are very mixed on them. 
 

I need to pick up water testing kits for cycling this week.  I plan on Hannah instruments for a few of the other tester kits in a few weeks but for now I’m going to grab some salifert kits this week for my cycle.  

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Very nice writeup of what you’ve done so far, and looks like things are off to a great start! I think the scape looks really good as is if you plan to stock some corals that will get tall, so you may want to leave it for now so the corals will have room. Your arch idea could be a consideration for adding later if you decide to go with more compact corals. 

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15 hours ago, boscoT said:

Hannah digital salt water probe.  But the reviews are very mixed on them. 

I had one, it was so inconsistent even immediately after getting it. I went back to the tried and true refractometer.

 

15 hours ago, boscoT said:

I am surprised how much the ATO kicks on. I guess this is a bit of a downfall for an open too tank. 

mine kicks on about once every 20-30mins. smalller the ato chamber the more it'll kick on unfortunately.

 

 

set up is looking amazing right now. Can't wait to see more.

 

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I ended up picking up a nano reef arch off a fellow forum member today. Can’t decide if I like it in the tank or not.  I broke it in about 3 pieces trying to get rid of a few parts.  What a nightmare.  For the forum member thank you kindly for trusting me to pick an arch today.  Appreciated it!!
 

I’ll let you all decide as I can’t make up my mind

 

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2 hours ago, banasophia said:

Very nice writeup of what you’ve done so far, and looks like things are off to a great start! I think the scape looks really good as is if you plan to stock some corals that will get tall, so you may want to leave it for now so the corals will have room. Your arch idea could be a consideration for adding later if you decide to go with more compact corals. 

I can't help but think that you are right.  I ended up buying an arch today for a great price very grateful.  I am interested to see what you have to say about the picture.  I have not issue removing it and not using it.  

 

 

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39 minutes ago, TheKleinReef said:

I had one, it was so inconsistent even immediately after getting it. I went back to the tried and true refractometer.

 

mine kicks on about once every 20-30mins. smalller the ato chamber the more it'll kick on unfortunately.

 

 

set up is looking amazing right now. Can't wait to see more.

 

 

That makes sense and is what's happening here.  I went through approximately 2qts in 24 hours.  I am going to fill the reservoir now.  Just making a batch of RO/DI as we speak.  I will monitor for the week and get a feel for the amount that I go through.  

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1 hour ago, boscoT said:

 

That makes sense and is what's happening here.  I went through approximately 2qts in 24 hours.  I am going to fill the reservoir now.  Just making a batch of RO/DI as we speak.  I will monitor for the week and get a feel for the amount that I go through.  

my 75g needs 5g of rodi every week. I would have a bigger reservoir than you think. So i'm not shocked 2qts ran low. I've never heard of a tunze getting stuck on and dumping too much water into the tank, but it's either that or the reservoir is too small and the pump runs dry. Two less than idea scenarios that can be mitigated by a controller.

 

also, there is this adapter that allows you to ditch their black metric sized tubing and use 1/4" RODI if you want to. I've been using it for 2 years with no issues.

https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/mur-lok-reducing-union-3-8-x-1-4-push-connect.html

 

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3 hours ago, boscoT said:

I can't help but think that you are right.  I ended up buying an arch today for a great price very grateful.  I am interested to see what you have to say about the picture.  I have not issue removing it and not using it.  

 

 

Ah, well I’m sure it will be good with the arch too… you can always take it back out later if you end up with a bigger coral that needs more room. 

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1 hour ago, banasophia said:

Ah, well I’m sure it will be good with the arch too… you can always take it back out later if you end up with a bigger coral that needs more room. 

Did you view the photos?  Curious your thoughts 

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Tank is incredibly clear.  The Tunze 3155 ATO is working perfect.  I am almost a week down in my cycle, I am going to wait another 5 weeks before I do anything but have a question about water testing.  Should I just let the tank cycle now or should I be doing tests every few days?  I was never a big water tester in the past and believed in letting the tank cycle and do its thing over time and then proceed.  

 

I will be testing for other things once the tank is established, I just haven't really done the cycle tests at the start.  

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Yeah I’m thinking the exact same thing.  I may add a bit more bacteria or I may add a raw shrimp to the bacteria cycle.  I’m literally in no rush to get going.  
 

im going to try and grab some coralline algae from my LFS today to start seeding the tank.  And I’m still on a quest to find some live rock crumble to add to the tank 

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I went to Fragbox today and picked up the 3D reefing light deflector. The tank sits beside the bed and the direct light to the eyes was a bit much. I seem to have a much better lighting to the tank now with the diffuser.  
 

i joined the Facebook AI prime group and spoke with the creator of pennywise light program.  He recommended the pennywise 71% day light for the single AI prime 16HD.  It has very healthy mix of white and blue.  
 

I found another really nice store on the way home today.  It’s a bit closer to home and absolutely stacked with product.  
 

I still can’t find a syphon break valve for my ATO.  Will likely have to order online and bite the shipping and possible duty to Canada.  
 

water is as clear as it get.  Still not using carbon in the tank while we cycle.  1 cycle week down 5 to go.  
 

I can’t wait to see life start to develop in this tank. 
 

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Everything looks so pristine right now! I must say that nightstand/tank stand combo is perfect- really diggin it. 
 

Agree you don’t need a siphon break. Just make sure the tip of the ato tubing isn’t under water in your rear chamber so it doesn’t siphon your tank water into the ato tub. 
 

Following!

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2 minutes ago, Elizabeth94 said:

Everything looks so pristine right now! I must say that nightstand/tank stand combo is perfect- really diggin it. 
 

Agree you don’t need a siphon break. Just make sure the tip of the ato tubing isn’t under water in your rear chamber so it doesn’t siphon your tank water into the ato tub. 
 

Following!

 

unless the water level of the reservoir is higher than the output of the ATO. I guess that could create a siphon into the tank.

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Just now, TheKleinReef said:

 

unless the water level of the reservoir is higher than the output of the ATO. I guess that could create a siphon into the tank.

No, I mean if the ato reservoir is in his stand and the end of the tubing is submerged in his rear chamber it will create a siphon when the ato stops. Hard to explain. Just make sure the end of the tube where water comes out isnt submerged in your rear chambers. Thats all. 

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51 minutes ago, Elizabeth94 said:

No, I mean if the ato reservoir is in his stand and the end of the tubing is submerged in his rear chamber it will create a siphon when the ato stops. Hard to explain. Just make sure the end of the tube where water comes out isnt submerged in your rear chambers. Thats all. 

Yeah I agree. I was just saying another scenario of a potential siphon. 

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@Elizabeth94 yes I have the line above the tank water level to avoid back siphon.   It’s just one added security get the break.  I’ll hold off for now.  It just makes me nervous with something that can flood my house lol.  

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