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                Think about it.  What are the factors in YOUR ideal environment?   Safety and freedom from enemies or threats? Clean air and water to make a healthy environment? Nutritious high-energy tasty food? Great people that you can trust surrounding you? Space to move around?  Here are some factors "from an opae-ula point of view!"

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     An arrow points to a Metabetaeus predator shrimp which is larger, has claws, is a deeper red, and is continually moving.  To date, we have not yet observed them actually catching an adult opae-ula who seem to have no problem escaping by "pop-corning" away when approached.


     Opae-ula will thrive in anchialine ponds where there are no major predators such as small or large fish as these will quickly wipe out all opae-ula populations if they do not retreat into the watertable under and around the ponds. While opae-ula is a sociable herbivore, anchialine ponds are also habitats for the Red Alpheid Predator Shrimp (Metabetaeus lohena) which is a carnivore and which feeds on opae-ula.

     The predator needs to have a higher level of oxygenated water and Fuku-Bonsai has set up a research tank with an undergravel filter,  opae-ula, and predators.  Observations will be reported separately. But initial observations clearly show that when predators are present in the tank, the opae-ula are tense and have a very different behavior pattern from those in our units!

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      Opae-ula has been used for almost 20 years in sealed glass units that are claimed to be scientific eco-system discoveries of art and science.  At least one creature may survive for a year or two.  

      A second type of opae-ula unit are "open top - no feed" units that are promoted as "the perfect pets that never need to be fed!" These three are made up of cheap 2.25" x 2.25" x 3" tall plastic boxes with a piece of coral with a plastic plant, some aquarium gravel and a few inactive opae-ula that shrink and die. At least one creature may survive for a year or two. 

     I am personally repulsed by these units as the opae-ula are usually very small.  They shrink because the algae that grows indoors in the unit is low nutrient algae that is equivalent to forcing humans to exist on a diet of only watermelon!  Each time the opae-ula molt, they come back with smaller because their body mass has decimated! 

    The opae-ula are skittish, try to hide, and are inactive. Even in the name of science,  how can anyone have these on their desks to watch the creatures slowly die one by one? We get a lot of emails from people who want to make and sell these cheap units or from those who have such units but want to buy more because their opae-ula died. Fuku-Bonsai will not supply for these purposes as we have no desire to see our opae-ula suffer the same fate!

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      It's easy to see that Micro-Lobsters love pure spirulina! It's a high-energy food sold in health food stores. If properly fed, it does not dissolve to lower water quality!  Fed only a tiny amount that can be completely consumed in one to two hours and follow by at least one no-feed day.  Simple, safe, and satisfying!

      Feeding opae-ula is a major psychological conversion from a disinterested science-related experiment to nurturing pets! Pets deserve to be treated properly and given the best possible environment!

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      Opae-ula are known to suddenly appear in such huge quantities that the bottom of ponds appear red!  This photo was taken in our research tank when an algae-covered rock from an anchialine pond was placed into a research tank that had not been fed recently.  Within an hour, they were all eating together with absolutely no signs of aggressive behavior!  Opae-ula have naturally very sociable traits and can live very comfortably in very dense populations!

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      This is a very distinctive behavior in Fuku-Bonsai Micro-Lobster units with lap swimming increasing with the size of the unit and an impressive amount in the Educational and Showstopper Breeding Tanks.   The spirulina gives them the energy and the security allows them to actively exercise!  There is very little or no "pop-corning!"  Fuku-Bonsai's tamed Micro-Lobsters exhibit very different traits from wild opae-ula!


                Opae-ula are amazing creatures!  The more you understand them, the more endearing they become!   These creatures are threatened in the wild as they loose their natural habitats.   Each year, more and more are joining the battle and it is now very unlikely that they will ever be endangered.  Pond are being restored and preserved.  Studies are being made to establish standards for sustainable harvesting of natural ponds.   Aquaculture researchers are discovering the factors that will lead to viable captive breeding in mass culture systems.  Fuku-Bonsai is involved in all aspects of education and conservation and we are making outstanding progress!

                Before a community develops the will and consensus to expend time and energy to aid in preserving a threatened specie,  they must know and have positive feelings to protect that specie!

                In leading private and public efforts to assure the future of the amazing Hawaiian Micro-Lobster,  we hope we are building a sustainable long-term support community.   By developing this extensive Micro-Lobster website, I hope to provide educational resources to allow our Educational Breeder Tank to become an outstanding teaching tool.   By focusing on Micro-Lobsters as pets and as a valued teaching tool, I hope to build a ground swell and community that cares enough to help assure that opae-ula never is threatened with extinction!

                Thirty years ago,  "HONU," the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, was in a similar threatened situation.  Mauna Lani Resort began a breeding and release program that drew wide publicity.  Aquaculture researchers and conservationists lent their support and expertise.  The visitor industry embraced the effort and there was statewide conservation efforts.  Now the wild stocks have recovered and the HONU effort is applauded as one of the great conservation success stories. 

                So we continue our initial efforts to promote and educate about opae-ula with the goal of building broad support to assure that it will become more available and never become endangered!  I invite everyone to join in this effort!  

          ~~~David W. Fukumoto


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Fuku-Bonsai 2003, 2004          You are cordially invited to visit the home of the Micro-Lobsters at
     17-856 Olaa Road (PO Box 6000), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
     Phone (808) 982-9880;  FAX (808) 982-9883
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