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              FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ) is a good place to get an overview of a subject and this section will continue to grow as questions are identified and researched.

What are Micro-Lobsters?





     Micro-Lobsters is Fuku-Bonsai's trademark name for the Red Hawaiian Anchialine Pond Shrimp that is scientifically identified as Halocaridina rubra and which in Hawaiian is called "opae-ula."  "Opae" is small shrimp and "ula" is lobster.  We use a tradename to differentiate our superior products and cultural practices which include feeding them with high-energy spirulina microalgae. Because of this, our Micro-Lobsters are usually larger and more active. Micro-Lobster Breeder Tanks are a happy, healthy sustainable breeding colonies.  When we use the term opae-ula, we are describing common features or subject pertaining to all such creatures.  When we use the term "Micro-Lobster,"  the information pertains specifically to Fuku-Bonsai products or practices or is information developed by Fuku-Bonsai.


Why is differentiation necessary?



     Opae-ula are offered in a number of ways including sealed glass "eco-systems in which only light enters,"  or as "perfect pets that never need to be fed." These systems produce opae-ula that shrink or become smaller each time they molt and are less active.  In contrast,  Fuku-Bonsai's "Third Wave" superior technology products need information that specifically will be helpful for our customers.


I have an opae-ula tank that I purchased from another source and need help.  Will you help me?



     I don't know.   I recommend first seeking help from where you purchased your unit as they should know the most about it.  We will not unseal any sealed eco-system. We generally help and work with past customers who want to develop larger custom units. Often, it is not possible to convert small inexpensive units and it's more cost-effective to simply purchase one of ours.  As shown in the website, we have assisted individuals in converting several smaller units into a single larger unit, but there must be a commitment to photograph and submit information to assist others.


What are the unique opae-ula qualities?




      Opae-ula are tiny (1/2" long when fully grown) endemic Hawaiian invertebrates that live in lava tubes or crevices in the water table.  They have the ability to adapt from almost pure fresh water to brackish water to water that is saltier than the ocean. They have very poor eyesight and cannot survive where there are predator fish. They need very little food or oxygen and can survive for extremely long periods in a sealed jar even when placed in the dark! These characteristics are exploited to "validify" eco-systems.  Unfortunately those eco-systems only work for a while when opae-ula is utilized.


Why do opae-ula that are not fed shrink?



      Opae-ula are crustaceans that have a hard outer shell. Periodically, they molt and step out of their old shells and a new shell hardens over their bodies. If they are not properly fed,   they step out of a larger older shell and the new shell hardens over a smaller body mass. Crustaceans shrinking is like a gaunt malnourished person that is starving or a victim of famine whose body is decimated with bones protruding.


How long will opae-ula live?







     I don't think anyone knows for sure.  Aquaculture researchers have had gallon size opae-ula jars sitting on their desks for over 20 years without water changing and with no feeding.   The creatures survive, but they shrink.  They are breeding in these units and no one is sure whether they are the same original ones or if they are adults that were born in the units.  A jar that began in 1988 with 15 opae-ula is still in great condition with an estimated 40-50 really tiny opae-ula that are less than half of their normal size. I'm told that someone published a paper claiming that there's an expected life expectancy of 12 years, but I have not been able to locate such a paper.  Based upon my observations I believe that they attain adult size and mature for breeding in about one year. In sealed glass eco-systems where they do not reproduce, the average survival rate is about two years with some surviving for as long as seven years. They were probably one year old when placed into the sealed unit so  I'm guessing that in their natural environment, life expectancy may be 5 to 8 years. I would be interested if anyone can provide rationale for a better guess. 


Will Fuku-Bonsai sell only opae-ula?







       Yes and no,  mostly no.  Creating the proper environment for opae-ula to thrive is extremely complex. It can be very high success if there is professional assistance is supplying critically needed components.  We will one day supply those components and opae-ula to educational institutions in the future. We will work with past customers who want to create larger custom units but will require a signed condition of sale agreement.   But we will not simply sell opae-ula to just any person. We have taken this position because opae-ula are choice "live food" to feed marine fish and seahorse and we will not aid or condone this practice as we believe opae-ula are too special and feeding creatures that we consider pets is unacceptable. I'm told that opae-ula are the best "live food" for seahorses because of their nutritional content compared to brine shrimp or feeder guppies but reject that statement. There's a full range of aquaculture enrichment foods that can greatly boost the nutritional values of brine shrimp, moina, daphnia, copepods or feeder guppies.  We will consider supplying opae-ula if any of our units crash.


What is a crash and what causes crashes?






        A crash is when all opae-ula die. Very few of our units crash and to date, each time that one does, there is a very clear cause beyond our control.  We know that if you drop a unit from about 4', our mini-breeder tank canister may not break but over the next two weeks, the opae-ula die.  This happened when a shelf collapsed.  Opae-ula have a very sensitive nervous system and suffer when exposed to sudden loud noise or shock. We have been advised that opae-ula cannot stand cold below 50F and that units have been know to crash when temperatures drop. To date none of our customers have reported such and all cold weather shipping (using heat packs) have been successful due to our packing-shipping expertise. If any of our units crashes for any reason,  suck out and remove dead opae-ula,  retain the water, and email me right away.


Is Fuku-Bonsai developing a comprehensive educational program?


      YES!   Those willing and able to assist in this area are invited to join the Micro-Lobster team and qualify for discounts.



Will Fuku-Bonsai sell their Micro-Lobster Breeder Tank Handbook, 5x loupe, or Micro-Lobster Premium Food to those who purchased their opae-ula units from others?





        Yes. We'd rather supply you with our unit as we believe they are the highest quality opae-ula products offered. But we recognize that quality does not come cheap and that some may not be able to afford our products.  We believe that the 5x loupe will help increase your enjoyment. There is more information on this free website than in the current 16-page color 2nd Edition Micro-Lobster Breeder Tank Handbook.

        The Fuku-Bonsai Micro-Lobster Premium Food will improve the health of opae-ula obtained from other sources.   However,  you should know that it will require patience and that you must not over-feed.  Our Micro-Lobsters include those that have been captive bred as well as those that have been purchased from licensed collectors.  However, all have been held here for a lengthy period and have been introduced to our food and have been "tamed."  Untamed recently collected opae-ula are very skittish and will not exhibit the qualities that our Micro-Lobsters do.  They also have not been introduced to spirulina microalgae. It may take a week or two and caution must be exercised not to over-feed and lower water quality.


What is the Micro-Lobster Team and who are members?



















         The Fuku-Bonsai Micro-Lobster Team include those who have worked with Fuku-Bonsai in some way to develop our products and include research resource individuals,  photographers,  newspaper columnists, authors of published books,   suppliers of components,  parcel delivery or shipping specialists,   regulators,  and many others who assisted us. 

         Members of the team are participating in a wide range of research projects as those who are committed to careful observation and who are willing and able to share are valuable in Fuku-Bonsai research projects or the projects led by some of the most respected published aquaculture researchers.  These researchers share with us their unpublished data and members of our team work directly with them to confirm their theories and research.

         Fuku-Bonsai is publicly committed to build an opae-ula export industry and to meet every legal regulatory requirement. The team includes governmental regulators from all appropriate Hawaii State or federal agencies. Being a new industry, there are many instances where the regulations are not clear and it is necessary to develop interpretations.  It is also necessary at times to seek legislation and to build public consensus and support.  Expediting and contributing to this process is only possible if the highest ethical "arms-length" relationship have been established. The team includes those elected to public office who have asked to be kept informed as we develop the industry.

        To date,   there is very limited published opae-ula information and this Micro-Lobster website is already the largest opae-ula resource.  It utilizes photos taken by a number of team members and we've been given permission to include their contributions into books to be published in the future.

        Hawaiian anchialine ponds must be restore in a manner that meets the highest standards of land stewardship.  Fuku-Bonsai and our associates have participated in numerous conservation projects and a number of our Micro-Lobster Team members are also members of such respected conservation groups as the Sierra Club and the Kohanaiki Ohana. 

        The opae-ula industry must develop a larger dependable source of opae-ula and the two major sources will one day be from mass cultural facilities producing opae-ula in controlled conditions, or sustainable harvesting from natural ponds managed by licensed collectors.   Fuku-Bonsai is building such a mass cultural facility and working with owners of private ponds. The team also includes licensed collectors who will manage and harvest from private ponds on a sustainable basis.  The team also includes owners of private ponds. 


Can anyone become a member of the Fuku-Bonsai Micro-Lobster Team?






       Yes and no.  No if the purpose is just to get privileged information without contributing back.  Yes if there is a sincere desire to participate and contribute.  The team includes those who love opae-ula, including those who have been growing them for longer than we have.  Many are past customers who share their experiences and provide on-going observations as we research reproduction. While we do not have a formal application, we like to know a member's full name, address, phone number, see photographs of their opae-ula units, and have an idea of their areas of interests and details of projects that they want to lead. You can meet some of the members who have provided information and for whom "pages" have been set up on this website. There is already a large backlog of material that his been submitted that awaits being formatted to be added to this website.  If you have ideas and interest and would like to be a part of this effort,  please email me to see if there is a "fit," and if so, let's get started!






         I don't have a huge amount of time to correspond and I hope this FAQ section provides answers to questions I often receive.   Please email if there are questions you'd like to see answered.  I've worked with bonsai for almost 40 years and you can see a lot of it in the Fuku-Bonsai website in which the bonsai material will print out to over 500 pages.  I'm really excited about the Micro-Lobsters and envision a website that may one day be just as large!  Mahalo to all who have supported and assisted us. I invite those willing to share their knowledge and skills to contact me!  Regards and aloha!  ~~~David
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