Most folks that keep coral (as well as those that keep fish) start off with a relatively small aquarium tank, moving up to larger and larger sizes as their hobby grows.
At the same time, though, some folks resist the temptation to “go big or go home” – or maybe they just don’t have the space for 50 gallon tanks and up.
Can you reliably keep coral in a 10 gallon tank without things going sideways, though?
Just how many corals in a 10 gallon tank are going to be “just right” – without throwing the entire tank into chaos?
How often can I introduce new coral into the tank or should I stick with my “starters” and be happy with that?
Find out the answers to all these questions – and more – in the rest of this detailed guide!
How Many Corals Can I Put in a 10 Gallon Tank?
Straight out of the gate we can tell you that a 10 gallon tank is perfectly fine to support corals, provided that the tank has been set up the right way.
At the same time, we aren’t going to tell you that a tank this small is going to be free of challenges.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sure, there are some absolutely unbelievable “nano reef” tanks out coral collections out there in these 10 gallon tanks. But pulling something like that off takes a lot of planning, a lot of careful consideration, and more than a little bit of continuous upkeep.
As far as how many corals will fit in a 10 gallon tank is concerned, though, the answer is sort of as many as you want until they start to crowd the space, sting each other, and start causing a little mayhem.
Without knowing exactly what kind of coral you’re thinking about dropping into the tank, what kind of coral you might want to add later down the line, or what you’re going to do to speed up or slow down the growth rate of your coral it’s tough to say just how many you can squeeze in.
Truth be told, if you have other tanks (or friends with other tanks) you could probably grow older and kinds of coral in your 10 gallons set up so long as you carefully frag the bigger coral options and “graduate them” elsewhere before they start to take over.
That might be something you want to consider!
How Often Can I Add Coral to a New Tank?
A lot of newbies get nervous about adding new corals into the mix, regardless of whether or not tanks are brand-new or when they are already established.
We can tell you that you don’t have to worry all that much about this being a problem, though.
You can add two or three coral all at once, 10 to 20 corals at a time, or up to 40 coral all at once in a 10 gallon tank without causing a lot of trouble for yourself (or for your new coral colonies).
Yes, you are reading that correctly – you’ll be able to add up to 40 corals to your tank at once without causing everything to go nuts.
Even though this sounds like overpopulation, the reality is that individual corals aren’t going to add a lot of pollution to the water and that means that their “bio load” is generally pretty low.
Now, you’re going to want to make sure that your water chemistry is really dialed in before you move everybody into the pool. And you want to be sure that your calcium and magnesium levels are pumped up to support this “shock”, too.
Other than that, though, just keep a close eye on water flow and things of that nature and you’ll be good to go
Where Should I Put Corals in My Tank?
Different kinds of corals are going to want to be positioned in different spots throughout your tank, some of them closer to the surface of the water (and closer to the light source) with others tucked a little bit deeper.
SPS corals, for example, love a lot of extra water flow and as much concentrated light as they can get. You’ll want to put them closer to the surface of the water without ever allowing them to breach.
LPS and “soft corals” on the other hand, generally prefer a lower flow level and at least a little bit of shade. You can place them lower in the tank (or even bury them in the sand) so long as they are still able to get a little bit of sunshine every now and again.
Think about the kind of coral you are placing, what it’s needs are, and then find a spot to establish it on your reef.
Should I Add Fish or Coral First?
When trying to decide if you should add your fish or your coral to a tank first it’s important to remember this aquarium rule:
Always start with the hardiest stuff.
As long as you keep this top of mind when you are adding things to your tanks you’ll be all right.
If you have fish that are particularly resilient, more resilient than any of the coral that you have carefully picked out, then you are going to want to start off with your fish.
On the other hand, if you picked out coral that are about as resilient as they come – real stony things that can live down near the bottom of the tank without a lot of lights – then you’re going to want to establish those colonies first, moving your fish in later down the line.
The only thing you want to be especially careful of is adding new coral to tanks with hyper aggressive fish, or adding hyper aggressive fish to tanks that have fresh growth coral still establishing themselves.
That’s a surefire recipe for disaster!
Just tried to think about the health and well-being of the entire underwater ecosystem of your tank and you’ll find the answer to this question really pretty self-explanatory.