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By David W. Fukumoto, Fuku-Bonsai president & founder
    EGGS! Congratulations to Bryan Yoshimura who reports his third berried female in the past few months and who has developed a photographic method using the macro setting on his digital camera while holding a 5x jeweler's loupe in front of the lens to produce this close-up that was further detailed and computer enhanced. 

     While much of this issue focuses upon building the Micro-Lobster infrastructure,  reproduction research is the long-term priority with most current reproduction information at the end of this lengthy report.

       M-L Bryan eggs IIb enhanced 6x4.5 72dpi.jpg (48330 bytes)
     The Fuku-Bonsai
Micro-Lobster Team
limited access report
is a communications
tool to keep everyone
informed of the efforts
of various team members
as we research and
develop commercially
viable products.
     As a private effort, we
can compliment and
assist the public sector
while building the
resources and focus to
accomplish what no
governmental unit can. 
      In the future,   this
Micro-Lobster Team can
collectively and individually
become a part of a
greater community-wide
public-private partnership. 


       The initial Micro-Lobster
Team Report is posted at www.fukubonsai.com/M-L6a.html















        ALOHA! This is the second non-linked report primarily accessed from a notice of posting being sent only to those in the "Fuku-Bonsai Micro-Lobster Team" that includes corporate officers and directors, business associates,   governmental regulatory agents, governmental research associates, individual hobbyists collaborating on various aspects or projects,  writers, photographers, and others who are willing to assist in improving our products.

         With the support and assistance of many in the team,  we are making exceptional progress and the size of the team has greatly increased since the first report.  For the benefit of new members, I must emphasize that while our efforts to research and educate will benefit everyone, this is a private effort. Fuku-Bonsai is pledged to publicly research and I invite those willing and able to support these efforts to be members of the Fuku-Bonsai Micro-Lobster Team.  Our goals:

    1.  TO ASSURE THE FUTURE EXISTENCE OF OPAE-ULA!  Under this very broad primary goal are many aspects that include regulatory, economic, research, education, Hawaiiana, politics, etc.  Fuku-Bonsai  aspires to be the premier Micro-Lobster informational resource and in lending our support and efforts, we benefit the entire community. The goal is to rebuild the natural and cultivated stocks to assure greater future availability. 

    2.  TO ENHANCE OPAE-ULA GOVERNMENTAL PRIORITY. The future of opae-ula largely depends upon governmental agencies giving opae-ula sufficiently high priority. Government units are notoriously slow to move if no public interest is shown. The concept of the Micro-Lobster Team is to harness the energies of many isolated individuals,  to coordinate where possible to expedite, and to encourage movement within the limits of available resources, but to do it in an efficient non-confrontational manner.

    3.  TO EDUCATE THE GENERAL PUBLIC. Opae-ula should be a valued Hawaiian cultural resource to be used for economic benefit in a responsible sustainable manner. Using them as "live food" for marine fish or seahorses should be discouraged as there are viable alternatives including enriched feeder guppies, mature brine shrimp, etc.  Bulk sale as commodities should also be discouraged as it provides very limited economic benefit compared to production of value-added products.  Those who already own opae-ula jars should be assisted to learn how to properly grow healthy active opae-ula as sustainable breeding colonies.  Opae-ula breeding tanks are ideal for use in local, national, and international educational institutions in teaching a host of subjects at various grades. 

   4.  TO CREATE AN EXEMPLARY ECONOMIC INFRASTRUCTURE. As an innovator and the first Hawaiian export bonsai professional, Fuku-Bonsai established the highest legal, ethical, and moral standards in participation in local, national and international bonsai organizations. We are committed to maintain these same standards as we pioneer Micro-Lobsters. We are very carefully selecting suppliers, associates, and our marketing team. For long-term profitability, it is necessary to create fair win-win relationships that generate sufficient profits to allow high-quality service and high-value quality products.

    5.  TO AID IN THE FORMATION OF A PUBLIC-PRIVATE TASK FORCE AND PARTNERSHIP.  Fuku-Bonsai is a private corporation with inherent conflicts of interests and it is, therefore, not appropriate for me to lead such an organization. Discussions have begun on how best to structure such a group. We are making some progress and members of this Micro-Lobster Team may be called upon to participate. The goal is to bring all interested parties into finding solutions and a concensus is emerging that the major priority is to remove the exotic fish to allow the opae-ula to recolonize the ponds. An aggressive additional goal could be to remove the accumulated silt to allow the algae to re-establish directly on the lava pond floor.  Private land owners willing and able to harvest on a sustainable can become dependable industry suppliers, or earn fees from licensed collectors. The goal is to create a sustainable win-win industry. 


 Micro-Lobster 3 breeder tanks 72dpi 4x3.jpg (16804 bytes)
     1/2-gal. Introductory Mini-Breeder Tank (left),  3/4-gal. Educational Breeder Tank (center), and 2-gal. Showstopper Breeder Tank (right)

      The 3/4-gallon Educational Breeder Tank are ideal for schools for use as a teaching tool.  We are offering a $25 discount for teachers or when given as gifts to schools and request participation as we build teaching aids, lesson plans, and curriculum material.   These will one day be a part of a Teacher's Manual. Please email me for more information.



       The 1/2-gallon Introductory Mini-Breeder Tank has received public acceptance and will likely become the favorite of those who have enough long-term interest to want to create a sustainable breeding colony. There are increasing reports of successful reproduction and the 1/2-gallon size may be the lower end of the needed water volume unit for sustainable breeding colony success. 

       Along this line, we introduced the 3/4-gallon Educational Breeder Tanks that we believe are ideal as teaching tools in schools.  The taller water column tends to generate more Micro-Lobster activity and student interest as it is easier to observe them as they swim laps. Because the design shares components with the smaller more popular model, we can produce these with very high values fairly economically.  We are therefore offering a $25 discount to teachers that will participate in developing lesson plans and curriculum materials and will be able to put together attractive prices when production allows supplying school districts locally, nationally, and internationally.

        We also introduced the 2-gallon glass Showstopper Breeder Tank with over 100 Micro-Lobsters and an exceptional lavascape. This is the first of a line to meet larger upscale residential, office, and commercial needs. It is an interim model utilizing a 2-gallon glass canister that was available. It serves as a traffic stopper and has proven concept. We continue efforts to locate upscale components for future improved models.  

        Because of our focus on reproduction,  we are beginning with a larger 1/2-gallon size that can house a larger breeding habitat and larger population.  This provides better odds of having both male and female Micro-Lobsters at best reproduction stages.


    "Hawaii's Little Red
      Shrimp are a Hot Item"
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     Photo by John C. Hoover, author of HAWAII'S SEA CREATURES.







        I've enjoyed the writings of Honolulu Advertiser's science and environmental newspaper writer Jan TenBruggencate.  So I was delighted when his article appeared on March 1, 2004. I received permission to reprint or reproduce and it is posted on this website at www.fukubonsai.com/M-L6c.html

        The article introduced the beginnings of a new Hawaiian niche export industry and includes some information about our competition.  While there's limited amount about the distinctions between the products,  I believe that those visiting our two websites or seeing the products side by side will draw their own conclusions.  The two companies are clearly focusing on the opposite ends of the market. 

        At the end, somehow there's an error that Fukumoto "provides buyers of his systems with a small jar of the feed, which he said should last 25 years."   OPPS!  Jan and I talked and we're not sure how this happened.  A correction has been printed, but I think it's kinda my fault.  I talk too much, too fast, and use hyperbole!  It could have been two ways: 

   1.  We supply a small vial that should feed about 25 Micro-Lobsters for about 1 year.   Or,

   2.  The smallest amount of spirulina available is probably enough to feed an opae-ula jar for about 25 years!  

        Both of the above are true, but a combination is not. Sorry!

        The article is bringing enthusiastic feedback from several nice people who have joined the Micro-Lobster Team!


Anchialine pond - tilapia!.jpg (49796 bytes)
      The above photo shows an old anchialine pond with tilapia and the round nesting holes typical of tilapia.   They very quickly eat all algae and vegetation and become stunted for lack of food.   Besides removing the fish, for optimum opae-ula growth, it will be preferable to remove the silt bottom and expose the lava floor.

        To provide the basis for action, a report titled RESTORE THE ANCHIALINE PONDS! including recommendation is linked and your comments, corrections, and suggestions are requested.



        Prior to the publication of the Advertiser article, I talked with Richard Brock of UH - Sea Grant who expressed his frustration at not being able to utilize rotenone to clear the exotic fish from the ponds.  I later talked with Alton Miyasaka of the Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR) who informed me that enabling legislation has been passed to use rotenone but that a permit system or regulations to assure proper use has not yet been established.  That's exciting news and I'm confident that DLNR and Richard Brock will be able to move us closer to the controls we need.  This brought out two issues:

   1.  The need to stay within the law!   Fuku-Bonsai is fully committed to respect the law and discourages anyone from taking matters into their own hands.  THERE IS A MAJOR BOARD OF HEALTH RULE AGAINST ANYONE PLACING ROTENONE IN THE PONDS!  The legislative approval gives only DLNR the necessary authority and responsibility.

   2.  The need for a public-private task force. There are roles for private companies and roles for governmental agencies.   But in the current situation it makes sense to put together representatives of both sectors and the consensus is that the leader should come out of the Big Island section of DLNR. At this point,  the primary challenge is to develop the leadership and efficient procedures to develop a consensus amongst all stakeholders and to galvanize the needed action. DLNR may be able to allocate a modest but sufficient amount of resources.


        It is currently illegal for anyone to use rotenone in the anchialine ponds.  Department of Health must first obtain Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval and the recommendation is to submit only rotenone which was earlier proven both safe and effective, rather than as just one of a larger list.  EPA has approved rotenone for use in many states and will likely more quickly approve it if it is submitted alone. Please review the report for more information.  After a week or two, I will be formally submitting the report and will be requesting letters of support. 



    There have been increasing reports of success.  Please send as much detailed observations as possible, especially noting the approximate temperatures and light levels. 

     As the breeding season begins,  it is likely that the combined observations of all in the Micro-Lobster Team will result in at least some preliminary conclusions in the coming year.


     At the Fuku-Bonsai Cultural Center, there is a growing Micro-Lobster exhibit including a copy of Wayne Nishijima's gallon jar unit (which he started in 1988 and has never been fed), our early prototypes,  other research tanks, and current breeder tanks.

    M-L molting 72dpi 4x3 3.5.2004.jpg (16528 bytes)

      Reproduction begins with molting,  the old empty shells are quickly eaten.  The female receives a sperm packet and a new shell forms.  A single isolated adult opae-ula is reported to have molted five times in three months. This suggests that mature female may carry eggs several times per year. It is still not clear how to tell which are males and which are female.



         Bryan Yoshimura has led in this area even though he has only a few small tanks. He makes great observations because he enjoys them and have the tanks at eye-level in a location that he passes frequently throughout the day. Some of his photos and observations are posted at:  www.fukubonsai.com/M-L2c.html and a lot of photos and materials await installing on the website!

        Bryan has spotted three berried females so far, but it may be significant that the first one was from a tank in a fairly dark area and the eggs of this first one developed into larvae and are now juveniles that are ten weeks old and being photographically documented. In contrast, the ones in the bright areas dropped eggs very early and there is a question whether they must be carried almost full-term to properly develop. In the natural anchialine ponds, no berried female has ever been spotted.  It may be that females must carry the eggs to maturity and that in nature, they stay in their underground habitat during this period.   It may be necessary to have both lighted feeding area and dark reproduction areas to successfully captive breed. 

        It is easier to spot berried females in well-lit tanks. The display sample Mini-Breeder Tank at VUE Hawaii in Kahala Mall currently has a berried female with three eggs.  It is especially easy to spot without the loupe as it "swims laps."

        At Fuku-Bonsai, we first spotted tiny almost transparent juveniles about 1/8" long . Perhaps because our tanks are in a fairly dark area, we have not noticed berried females and so appreciate Bryan's observations and photos. Recently,  with the aid of a bright halogen lamp and a 5x loupe,  we noticed free-floating larvae.  Once the eggs hatch and larvae emerge, and there seems to be a very high rate of success as they develop into juveniles and adults and growth is very predictable.

        Reproduction research must especially focus on breeding, egg development, and emergence of larvae.  Opae-ula varies from most other shrimp in having only a small number of eggs.  But they have a very high survival rate.  We know breeding takes place only in a short period following molting with reports of molting on a monthly basis at times!  

       We believe that the breeding season begins when water temperatures are in the mid-70's as greatest reproduction reports are from the mainland by those using heaters.  The primary areas of research may be on how to promote breeding and egg development,  then how to obtain the best hatch-out rate.   I would appreciate all theories and information in this area and have begun to research literature of related shrimp including "mountain opae." 

        We have been informed that our application for a USDA Small Business Innovative Research grant for our project:  "Creating an Opae-Ula (Halocaridina rubra) Mass Culture System"   will not be funded.  However, we remain committed and will continue with Fuku-Bonsai's resources. I believe we also qualify for the USDA Agricultural Matching Fund Value-Added Program but did not apply because we could not handle both. Knowing we won't get the SBIR, we will position for the Value-Added Program which is has more liberal Phase I funding.


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       VUE Hawaii president Judy Morita and David Fukumoto with the Fuku-Bonsai display.
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        Thomas Iwai of Anuenue Fisheries and Alton Miyasaka of the Aquatic Division on Hawaii Department of Land & Natural Resources with the two new breeder tanks. Both participated in the presentation on Saturday, February 28.  Thomas shared information about his research and Alton clarified regulations concerning opae-ula. 


      VUE HAWAII in Kahala Mall will be our lead Oahu retailer and the recently introduced Educational Breeder Tank and Showstopper Breeder Tank can be inspected there.  President Judy Morita is an outstanding retailer and with her sister Betsy, Iris, and Jamie, are probably the retailers that are the most knowledgeable about Micro-Lobsters. It was great to meet Bryan, Christine, Lloyd, David, Marty, Thomas, Alton, and other members of the Micro-Lobster Team. 

       The Fuku-Bonsai marketing plan is to have a lead retailer on each island who will stock and sell the Micro-Lobster Handbook, premium food, 5x jeweler's loupes, and replacement light bulbs as separate items to assist those who want to improve the health of their opae-ula, even if they obtained them from another source.  The pricing established at VUE Hawaii makes it cheaper for Oahu residents to purchase there instead of by mail-order as there are no shipping fees.  VUE Hawaii will also take drop-shipment gift orders to be sent to all parts of the US (and eventually to Japan, Canada, and other countries).

        Once lead retailers are established and we've built resources to help Hawaii residents, we will broaden our retail network to include all parts of the visitor industry.  To retain as much economic benefit for Hawaii State as possible, the emphasis has been to establish THE AMAZING HAWAIIAN MICRO-LOBSTER products as made in Hawaii as a celebration of a unique endemic Hawaiian creature that will be the outstanding prestige gift or souvenir from a Hawaiian vacation.

        On Maui, lead retailer will be Dan's Green House of Lahaina who has been associated with Fuku-Bonsai since 1976.  Invitations have been extended to possible lead retailers in Kauai and the Big Island. In addition to setting up lead retailers and visitor industry accounts,   we are exploring ways to establish fee-based "resource or service centers" where those who already have opae ula jars can be assisted or small amounts of opae-ula can be obtained.  We do not plan to wholesale opae-ula.


ML dime adults + juveniles 72dpi x 4x3 enhanced.jpg (21842 bytes)
      The above computer enhanced photo is just one of a number to be installed as time permits.  A dime is about 3/4" in diameter.  An adult is about 1/2" long.  A 7-week juvenile is about 1/4" long with the photo also showing older juveniles.
        WELCOME TO THE NEWEST MEMBERS!  There has been an overwhelming response to my invitation for those with interest to submit materials and photographs for publication on the website!  I am running far behind and it may take a few months between the time I receive it until it is posted on the website.  I apologize for the delay. 

         The quality of the submittals are continuously improving and I am increasingly very comfortable in showing photographs of a number of the members of the Micro-Lobster Team even if we did not supply any of their items.  We are broadening membership to include those who are willing to participate in various trials and especially need the observation reports as the breeding season begins.  

          At the same time,  we are refraining from shipping and selling only Micro-Lobsters.   I am very concerned that the stocks are increasingly limited and I am strongly advocating that opae-ula not be sold as "live food" for marine fish and seahorses. While this may have been appropriate when there were unlimited stocks,  I believe this is no longer appropriate and that feeder guppies or other alternatives be used. 





      Over the past winter shipping season, I'm pleased to report that with the use of heat packs when necessary,   all Micro-Lobster units arrived safely! We shipped whenever low temperature in the destination area was above 32F!

      For a sampling of reports and testimonials, please go to: www.fukubonsai.com/M-L6.html





          Again I am amazed and overwhelmed by the solid interest of such a large number of high-quality people who are excited and happy to participate. In every area, I am receiving extraordinary support and assistance!  I believe I now have full knowledge of all of the regulatory complexities.  As time permits, I am working my way up and better understanding the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources which is destined to play the pivotal opae-ula role.

           While I hear of many ponds containing guppies or mollies that no longer have opae-ula,  I'm delighted that the first steps that will lead to rotenone being used have been taken.  I also hear more about the existence of pristine ponds or ponds that have been restored. 

           Opae-ula are voracious eaters and ponds that have limited algae growth have healthy opae-ula populations.  The consensus is that the opae-ula population is limited by the amount of food available. If a percentage of the population is collected,  more algae becomes available for the remainder and the population quickly increases.  If so, it is likely that captive breeding will produce significant quantities.  It is rumored that captive breeding is privately taking place, but to date, there have not yet been any substantiated publication and we will continue to research and collect data. I am very optimistic that the stocks of opae-ula will recover to become the pride of Hawaii!

            I thank everyone as we begin a larger crusade.  MAHALO! 
    ~~~ David W. Fukumoto, president & founder, Fuku-Bonsai Inc.
***   Return to Fuku-Bonsai Home Page    ***  Return to the Micro-Lobster Home Page
***    Go to the Advertiser Article        ***  Go to the report: RESTORE THE ANCHIALINE PONDS!                  
Fuku-Bonsai 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
     Email:  david@fukubonsai.com    URL:  www.fukubonsai.com or www.micro-lobster.com