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Long-lived but still rare? Facts.

The rare Hawaiian Opae Ula go by many names, such as, Hawaiian red shrimp, Volcano shrimp, Hawaiian micro-lobsters and more. They are a bright red-orange in color and about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length as a full adult. Opae Ula are hardy creatures and can live as long as 20 years with little care. The Opae Ula can adapt and thrive as long as there are no predator fish, nor extreme toxicity in the water.

Although here are some who would have these beautiful creatures live in a sealed environment, not ever having their water changed or being fed, we do not subscribe to that practice. The Opae Ula who have suffered that fate, don't live as long and slowly starve to death.

According to researcher, Scott R. Santos, of the Department of Biological Sciences and Cell & Molecular Biosciences Peak Program, at Auburn University in Alabama, “Commercial harvesting, coupled with habitat destruction as well as strong regional endemism, could lead to the depletion and/or extinction of unique Halocaridina populations or genetic groups.”

Santos has long studied the life in Hawaiian anchialine ponds, including the little Halocaridina shrimps. Anchialine ponds are coastal pools that have no surface connection to the sea, but have various levels of salinity and may rise and fall with the tides. In Hawai'i, most of them are found along the Kona and Ka'u coast of the Big Island and in the 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve on Maui, although there are also ponds on O'ahu. These natural ponds are disappearing due to land development and pollution.

My Favorite Opae Ula Myth: The Spark of Pele

There are a few myths of the Opae Ula and how they were created. My favorite is one with Pele, Goddess of the Volcano. The Polynesian Goddess Pele was brought to the Hawaiian Islands from Tahiti. She is the Goddess who is both creator and destroyer. Pele was one of six daughters and seven sons who was exciled by her father for her temper and for fighting with her siblings, particularly with her elder sister, the Water Goddess whose husband she seduced. Her brother, Kamohoali'i, king of the sharks, gave her a grand canoe to travel over the ocean from Tahiti to Hawaii. She brought with her, her little sister, Hi'iaka, the patroness of the Hula.

As she traveled the islands was followed and persecuted by her sisters, Pele fought back for survival. She drove her staff into the ground creating fiery, spewing fountains of lava. She left her imprint on each island, with her fiery power, such as, Diamond Head crater on Oahu and Haleakala crater on Maui. Legend says that as Pele battled with her sisters on each island, she created a volcano of such power and magnificance that the island became larger and more beautiful. As she battled, she tapped into the power of the earth energy creating volcanic power that sprayed volcanic sparks and lava miles into the air. As each of these sparks fell into the water, whether it was the ocean or ponds, each spark created an Opae Ula. So these beautiful Opae Ula were created by a volcanic spark of lava from the Goddess Pele who is both Creator and Destroyer.

Pele finally decided to make her home on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii, the home of the world's most active volcano. She is still very active in destroying some of the forest as the lava flows to the ocean while creating new land.

Local Artist

More facts

We do not believe in being redundant. Another breeder of Opae Ula in breeding tanks is at At this site you can find out many facts about Opae Ula. Whether you buy from us or from Fukubonsai is up to you.

We farm our Opae Ula in the wild in private ponds in East Hawaii. We sell individual Aquahome communities of at least 10 to hundreds of Opae Ulas or we can sell in bulk to large aquarium or dealers in the thousands. Our basic mission is to inform and to provide beautiful pets to continue the species.

Please check out our Aquahomes page for ordering information. Aloha!

Hawaii Opae Ula Farm & Aquarium 877-721-3999 PO Box 986, Pahoa, HI 96778