Collection of coral, beach sand, "live sand" and "live rock" for sale is strictly prohibited. There are strict limits of what can be collected for personal use. These fall under the Aquatic Division of the State Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Opae-ula are amazing and amongst the most adaptable creatures! But it still requires common sense and they will especially thrive if they are given the best possible environment and care. When the opae-ula fad began, many used coral, beach sand and a mixture of ocean water and distilled water. Hobbyists who do not sell may be able to quietly do so. But it is clearly illegal if the units are sold!
Collecting live coral is illegal. Selling coral is illegal. Selling sculpture created from coral is illegal. But hobbyists can collect a limited amount of beached coral provided it is not sold. Coral is the most popular decorative item used by hobbyists designing their own opae-ula habitats. Hobbyists can also collect and utilize a limited amount of beach sand that has needed bacterial populations provided it is not offered for sale. So creating opae-ula units are a popular hobby in Hawaii. But they run up against the law when they are sold.
"Live rock" is an aquaculture term to describe a material that may have algae or seaweed growth on it. It also has an unknown population of bacteria, invertebrates, or other sea creatures. These provide portions of the "oxygen cycle" that is necessary to sustain life in a jar.
Because of these regulations, no opae-ula habitat to be sold in Hawaii can contain coral, beach sand, or collected ocean live rock. Fuku-Bonsai utilizes two forms of volcanic lava that have been cleared for export. It then introduces and inoculates a bacterial colony under controlled conditions.
*** Continue to Lava Export Regulations