THE AMAZING HAWAIIAN MICRO-LOBSTERS!™
MICRO-LOBSTER REPORTS
          This section will be used to give interested customers and members of the Micro-Lobster Team & Associates a status summary. It will be updated from time to time to keep information current. _______________________________________________________

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       Original photo 1998  by John P. Hoover, author of HAWAII'S SEA CREATURES; A Guide to Hawaii's Invertebrates.  Cropped and digitally enhanced by Fuku-Bonsai.
 
SIX-MONTH REPORT
By David W. Fukumoto, Fuku-Bonsai president & founder
NOVEMBER 2003
         Six months ago, we began our product testing and we've made outstanding progress. From the beginning, we walked a different path and trademarked "THE AMAZING HAWAIIAN MICRO-LOBSTERS! " We focused on the extraordinary Hawaiian endemic creatures and created the optimum environment for happy, healthy creatures.

          There are now three primary opae-ula systems: 1) "Sealed Eco-Systems", 2) "Air-Exchange No-Feed Jars", and 3) Fuku-Bonsai Breeder Tanks requiring food.

          "Sealed Eco-Systems" and "Air Exchange No-Feed Jars" depend upon growing sufficient algae as food and to produce oxygen. Very early we knew these systems would not be sustainable with ordinary care.

          Algae covering the walls are ugly and some people resort to adding snails to clear the algae. But this also removes the food source. Or the jars are kept in very low light so with only low-energy algae, the creatures have inadequate nutrients and shrink. Although it is possible for creatures to survive for long periods, the most successful are one-gallon or larger jars. Units less than 1/2-gallon tend to be unstable.

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         This "no-feed" gallon unit by Dr. Wayne Nishijima of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources of Hilo was begun in 1988 and photographed in 2003. Water has never been changed and it has never been fed. Light alga growth covers the walls.  Opae-ula have reproduced but have greatly shrunk in size over the years and are less active.

FEEDING VS. "NO-FEED"

          Crustaceans molt their outer skeletons every six months or so. They step out of their old shells and new shells are grown. If the creatures were underfed, the new shells are smaller than the old shells and they actually shrink with each molting cycle.

          In our trials opae-ula shrank about 20% to 30% after the first molt cycle compared to those that were fed. Normal size adults are about 1/2" long. In tanks not fed for 15 years, opae-ula have progressively shrunk to less than half their normal size.

          There are other significant differences. Those in "no-feed" tanks are much less active while many in tanks being fed are continually swimming. Those in "no-feed" tanks tend to stay far apart and have very limited interaction with others while those in tanks being fed are sociable creatures who often seem to be "talking story," gossiping, and passing on the news of the day. Those in "no-feed" tanks seem to have no personality while those in tanks being fed are happy, healthy, adorable, sociable creatures that are wonderful pets!

COMPLETING THE BASIC UNIT

          The design of our original canister tanks with the bonsai inspired base received a lot of compliments. The most frequent suggestion was to improve the top of the tank that looked like a kitchen canister lid (which it was). Customers also were complimentary about the beauty of the lava aquascape but could not appreciate the beauty until they examined it with the 5x jeweler's loupe.

          While researching the Internet, I discovered a small 7-watt 110V light unit made in China and was able to obtain samples, that along with canister lids, were modified in-house to become our canister light unit. In-tank lighting was a beautiful improvement and it was easy to see the Micro-Lobsters meeting and holding council atop the aquascape. It seemed that, as they took control of their kingdom, they showed their happiness with beautiful red coloring!

          The major disadvantage of the light unit was the distracting electrical cord that was visible through the tank. Following bonsai practices, we created a plain background so even on a cluttered desk, the Micro-Lobsters can be enjoyed. The background also gave us a place to install basic instructions and everything began coming together!

 

         The Fuku-Bonsai Micro-Lobster Introductory Mini-Breeder Tank is a complete premium 1/2-gallon portable desktop unit. It includes the tank, base, aquascape, light unit, background, a year's supply of food, a 16-page handbook, cultured water and a generous number of Micro-Lobsters.

          With clear evidence of superior results we moved to a "feed only" recommendation and focused upon obtaining the ideal food and packaging unit. Cyanotech's Keahole-Kona-grown spirulina is ideal because of the high carotenoide profile of their nutrient-rich microalgae.

          This superfood has significantly higher nutritious values compared to the algae that grow on the walls of tanks that are kept in low light. Another crucial factor is that spirulina is non-soluble and floats on the surface of the water. If completely eaten within one to two hours, there is no possibility of polluting the water compared to feeding less nutritious soluble flake fish food.

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          Only a very tiny amount smaller than a single grain of rice is needed. Uneaten food would eventually pollute the water and kill the Micro-Lobsters. Most customers would feed too much, so we "invented" a measuring scoop that measures off 1/4" of a toothpick.

         Our feeding protocol modified standard aquarium feeding recommendations. Micro-Lobsters take a long time to filter-feed and we recommend feeding only the amount that can be consumed in one to two hours. If the food is not fully consumed in that amount of time feed less the next time. We also recommend a "no-feed day" after each feeding or feeding just three times per week. Here at Fuku-Bonsai, assigned staff feed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

          To preserve the values of our vials that hold a full year's supply of food, we obtained airtight, lightproof snap-top vials with desiccant liners that absorb oxygen. These "Micro-Lobster Premium Breeding Food" vials are included with every Mini-Breeder Tank.

OTHER IMPROVEMENTS & RESEARCH

          Just as when we pioneered True Indoor Bonsai , the growing of houseplants in the bonsai manner, we have built a strong continuing research, feedback, and educational standard. The initial group included aquaculture researchers, family, friends, business associates, and customers. Increasingly detailed cultural sheets were written. The current 16-page Micro-Lobster Handbook will soon be expanded and printed in color.

          Our Micro-Lobster website is already the most comprehensive website and it will continue to be enlarged as research and writing/photography time permits. The survey being distributed will add more information and give a better national understanding.

          Fuku-Bonsai is a professional pioneer of captive breeding and has begun a study to develop mass culture systems and has applied for an USDA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant. Already over 95% of Hawaiian anchialine ponds have been filled, converted to landscaped fishponds, or are otherwise unsuitable opae-ula habitats. It's just a matter of time before no further collecting will be legally allowed.

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   (Left) Introductory Mini-Breeder Tank

   (Right) Educational Breeder Tank

CONTINUING RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

          Research continues on a larger 3/4-gallon Educational Breeder Tank that is performing well in trials. Although it holds 50% more water, it can hold more than twice as many Micro-Lobsters that are much more active. At this point, there seems to be another critical mass threshold similar to when we enlarged from a one-quart to the 1/2-gallon unit.

          Shipping systems have been developed and 40 or 60-hour heat packs will be utilized this winter to extend the shipping season.

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         The Micro-Lobsters have been especially exciting to teachers and this unit is part of an 8th grade art class in Silk Hope School in Siler City, North Carolina. Other units could be used in biology, science, ecology, and any number of subjects because they capture the interest of students. We will develop teaching manuals and aids.

          I thank those who have assisted and ask for your continuing support and participation.
 
Fuku-Bonsai, 2003
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Fuku-Bonsai 2003          You are cordially invited to visit the home of the Micro-Lobsters at
FUKU-BONSAI CULTURAL CENTER & HAWAII STATE BONSAI REPOSITORY
     17-856 Olaa Road (PO Box 6000), Kurtistown, Hawaii 96760
     Phone (808) 982-9880;  FAX (808) 982-9883
     Email:  sales@fukubonsai.com    URL:  www.fukubonsai.com or www.micro-lobster.com