- THE STORY BEHIND THE DEVELOPMENT OF
From the very start, our major objective was to create the highest quality most compact opae'ula unit to easily handcarry to the continental United States, Japan, Canada, and possibly other countries by visitors to Hawaii. It required compliance with a host of governmental regulations, a lot of technical challenges, and a huge amount of trial and error. We've succeeded! Initially, we were more successful with large one-gallon units. Without incorporating advanced technology, small units lack the critical mass to be consistently stable on a long- term basis. But one-gallon units are too large to handcarry and the retail price would be too high. As our skills increased, we achieved high success with a 1/2-gallon unit and introduced our first product in June of 2003.
Once on the market, we learned from our customers and just a few months later, included a canister light, background panel, and Premium Micro-Lobster Food! That model has now been upgraded three times and is now designated "BT-1D." There are numerous reports of successful reproduction and this was the first for a standard commercially available opae'ula item and a standard that sealed glass eco-systems have never achieved. The BT-1D is our most popular unit.
The 1/2-gallon Introductory Mini-Breeder Tank was followed a short time later by a larger 3/4-gallon Educational Breeder Tank (BT-2) that included a 5x jeweler's loupe and a cleaning stick. Customers told us that they wanted complete units rather than purchasing various components separately. That works well for us as it is very costly to pack and ship just a single small item. By making them part of each unit, we were able to get better prices and the complete units became better values. BT-2 has a $25 educational institution or teacher discount available. Although more costly, this is clearly the favorite unit for repeat customers or for larger homes or offices!
RESEARCHING OPTIMUM ENVIRONMENTS & REPRODUCTION
We focus on reproduction research and apply the highest standards that are used to evaluate zoos. By feeding 100% pure spirulina microalgae, our Micro-Lobsters are active, happy, healthy and retained their full size and sociable personalities. But the true test for any zoo is whether or not there is reproduction and we are receiving numerous reports that reproduction in our breeder tanks is increasingly common!
Successful reproduction proved we were creating optimum conditions and we revisited all factors to design smaller more economical units. After incorporating new technology our new small units worked beautifully! It was a matter of making many small adjustments and modifications. By first producing larger units, we gained the necessary knowledge and experience. Fuku-Bonsai is a Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources licensed aquaculture facility to incorporate bacteria inoculation into our products to assure long-term stability of our units.
FINALIZING OUR INTRODUCTORY UNIT
The objective was to create a long-life compact introductory unit that would perform well, but at a significant cost savings. The cylinder is 3.5" in diameter and the overall height is 4.5" high. It is as an exceptional item for Hawaii visitors to handcarry home (including to Japan and Canada)! An attractive price is possible because there is no light unit, no background, no cleaner stick, no handbook, and no jeweler's loupe. There was never any question that a vial of food would be included and we obtained a smaller air-tight desiccant-lined vial that will hold a year's supply of premium Micro-Lobster food.
This unit will be long-lasting but it may or may not become a sustainable breeding colony like our larger units. We included a bacterial and breeding habitat but with the smaller number of Micro-Lobsters in the Micro-Utopia, with fewer Micro-Lobsters, we just don't know if there will be a compatible breeding pair. Reproduction is possible, but there are more likely reproduction in our larger units.
PRE-PACKAGING FOR HANDCARRY FROM HAWAII
Fuku-Bonsai has met all regulatory requirements to allow the MICRO-UTOPIA to be handcarried to all parts of the United States, Japan, and Canada. It is likely to be cleared for other countries also. While it can be shipped to any part of the United States, it will be very costly to ship to Japan or Canada as a US Fish & Wildlife Import-Export License is required. In addition there is a $55 inspection fee for each shipment. Until this is resolved, it can only be handcarried into Japan and Canada.
We are very confident of our ability to ship throughout the US via Federal Express who now guarantee delivery within two days from Hawaii to any part of the continental US. Orders are shipped on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and arrive two days later. We will not ship on other days as parcels have been damaged when a weekend occurs within the transit time. We have been successful in using shipping heat packs and will ship whenever reported temperatures in the recipient area is above freezing. However, business addresses or where there will be someone to accept the parcel is very strongly recommended.
From the very beginning, we set out to create the finest opae'ula units and I believe we have done so! It is very satisfying to receive customer reports. I think our customers know that we will not likely ever be the cheapest source and that Fuku-Bonsai represents highest quality, outstanding personalized service, and exceptional value. We work hard and are committed to these ideals. Each of our staff played a role in developing Micro-Lobsters as Fuku-Bonsai's second major specialty. Like bonsai, it is extremely complex and requires a lot of discipline and professionalism.
The more you learn about them, the more you'll realize that they are truly amazing creatures! I believe that the Micro-Utopia unit is the smallest that we will produce. But conversely, larger units are exceptional and now our research has begun to focus on improving the 3/4-gallon Educational Breeder Tank with greater resource information, a teachers' manual, and incorporating it as a teaching tool in various curriculums and different grade levels. Research also continues into the next generation of upscale Showstopper Breeder Tanks.
I believe ideal initial population density is about 48 per gallon (12 per quart; 24 per 1/2-gallon, and 36 per 3/4-gallon). This allows capacity to allow for reproduction as we've successfully tested the units for twice that population density! Can you imagine having 500 Micro-Lobsters in a 10-gallon Showstopper Breeder Tank?
It's exciting to envision. But it's also exciting and satisfying to introduce the Micro- Utopia. It's the right size and the right price to introduce everyone to the amazing Hawaiian Micro-Lobsters! Please tell your friends and relatives about it and write me if you have questions. Mahalo for your support throughout the years!
- Warm regards, ~~~David W. Fukumoto (February 2005)