Phtisica marina

Phtisica marina Slabber, 1769

Languages: English


General Description

Caprellid, “Ghost” or “Skeleton” shrimps, so called for their skeletal appearance. Amphipod crustaceans, easily distinguished by the elongate stick-like body form and reduction of the abdominal appendages. Head is generally fused with pereonite 1. Pereopods on first 2 segments (pereonites) are most flexible and called gnathopods; gnathopods 2 being the largest, used in defense, feeding and substrate attachment. In many species pereopods 3 and 4 may also be reduced or absent. Gills on pereonites 3 + 4, rarely on pereonite 2. Pereopods 5 - 7 much smaller than 1 + 2, used for clinging to the substratum. In females, brood plates (öostegites) develop on pereonites 3 + 4. Much remains to be learnt about their biology, ecology and in many cases changing distributions.

Author(s): Ashton, Gail
Rights holder(s): Ashton, Gail


Diagnostic Description

Length: 3-25mm. Body smooth. Antenna 1 from ½ to full length of body; antenna 1 approximately equal to antenna 1 peduncle. Gnathopod 1 propodus triangular with 4-5 grasping spines, palm with numerous short spines. Gnathopod 2 carpus shorter than merus, propodus widest proximally with proximal grasping spine and auxilliary spine, palm with numerous short spines and setae. Gills on pereonites 2-4 elliptical, those on 2 being smallest. Pereopods 3 + 4 six-segmented, palm of propodus with 3 short spines; pereopod 5 five-segmented; pereopods 6 + 7 six-segmented with 2 proximal grasping spines, 1 medial spine and 1 distal spine.

Author(s): Ashton, Gail
Rights holder(s): Ashton, Gail


Many Synonyms, see McCain 1968 for full list

Author(s): Ashton, Gail
Rights holder(s): Ashton, Gail

Ecology and Distribution


Northern Norway to the Mediterranean Sea; British Isles; Azores; Canary Islands; Mediterranean and Black Seas; tropical West Africa; South Africa; Brazil; East coast North America; Virgin Islands; Venezuela; Colombia- Amphi Atlantic.

Author(s): Ashton, Gail
Rights holder(s): Ashton, Gail


Surface to 660m. Substrate generalist: green and brown algae, sea grass, sponges, hydroids and bryozoans.

Author(s): Ashton, Gail
Rights holder(s): Ashton, Gail

Trophic Strategy

Described as predatory on Caprella acanthifera- grasping the prey with gnathopod 2 and seemingly introducing poison from the poison tooth (Costa 1960).

Author(s): Ashton, Gail
Rights holder(s): Ashton, Gail


  • Proto pedata (synonym)
  • Proto goodsiri (synonym)
  • Proto ventricosa (synonym)
  • Proto elongata (synonym)
  • Phthisica acaudata Reibisch, 1906 (synonym)
  • Phtysica marina Crawshay, 1912 (synonym)
  • Phtysica acaudata Borcea, 1934 (synonym)
  • Phthisica marina Norman, 1886 (synonym)


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Costa, A. (1960).  Note preliminaire sur l'ethologie alimentaire de deux caprellides de la Rade de Villefranche sur Mer. . Trav. Stn zool. russe Villefranche. 19, 103-105.
Diaz, Y. J., Guerra-García J. M., & Martin A. (2005).  Caprellids (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) from shallow waters of the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. Organisms Diversity and Evolution. 10, 1-25.
Foster, J. M., Thoma B. P., & Heard R. W. (2004).  Range extensions and review of the Caprellid Amphipods (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidea) from the shallow, coastal waters from the Suwannee River, Florida, to Port Aransas, Texas, with an illustrated Key . Gulf and Caribbean Research. 16(2), 161-175.
González, A. R., Guerra-García J. M., Maestre M. J., Ruiz-Tabares A., Espinosa F., Gordillo I., et al. (2008).  Community structure of caprellids (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidae) on seagrasses from southern Spain. . Helgoland Marine Research. 62, 189-199.
Guerra-García, J. M. (2001).  Habitat use of the Caprellidea (Crustacea : Amphipoda) from Ceuta, North Africa. Ophelia. 55, 27-38. Abstract
Guerra-García, J. M., & García-Gómez J. C. (2001).  The spatial distribution of Caprellidae (Crustacea: Amphipoda): a stress bioindicator in Ceuta (North Africa, Gibraltar Area).. Marine Ecology- Pubblicazioni Della Stazione Zoologica Di Napoli . 22, 357-367.
Guerra-García, J. M., & Takeuchi I. (2002).  The Caprellidea (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from Ceuta, with the description of three species of Caprella, key for Caprella and biogeographical discussion. . Journal of Natural History . 36, 675-713.
Guerra-García, J. M., & Tierno de Figueroa J. M. (2009).  What do caprellids (Crustacea: Amphipoda) feed on?. Marine Biology. 1881-1890.
Guerra-García, J. M., Corzo J., & García-Gómez J. C. (2002).  Clinging behaviour of the caprellidea (amphipoda) from the Strait of Gibraltar. Crustaceana. 75, 41-50. Abstract
Guerra-García, J. M., Corzo J., García-Asencio I., & García-Gómez J. C. (2000).  Seasonal fluctuations of Phtisica marina Slabber (Crustacea: Amphipoda: Caprellidea) in the estuarine zone of Southern Spain.. Polskie Archiwum Hidrobiologii. 47, 527-531.
Guerra-García, J. M., Martinez-Pita I., & Pita M. L. (2004).  Fatty acid composition of the Caprellidea (Crustacea: Amphipoda) from the Strait of Gibraltar. Scientia Marina. 68, 501-510.
Guerra-García, J. M., Sánchez-Moyano J. E., & Ros M. (2009).  Distributional and ecological patterns of caprellids (Crustacea: Amphipoda) associated to the seaweed Stypocaulon scoparium in the Iberian Peninsula. . Marine Biodiversity Records. 2, 1-8.
Lamarck, J. B. P. (1801).  Systeme des animaux sans vertebres, ou tableau general des classes, des orders et des genres de ces animaux.. Paris. vii + 432.
McCain, J. C. (1968).  The Caprellidae (Crustacea: Amphipoda) of the Western North Atlantic.
Sars, G. O. (1895).  An account of the Crustacea of Norway, Vol. 1, Amphipoda. Christiania. 711.
Smaldon, G. (2000).  Caprellidea. (HaywardP J., RylandJ S., Ed.).Handbook of the marine fauna of north-west Europe. Oxford: University Press.
Takeuchi, I. (1999).  Checklist and bibliography of the Caprellidae (Crustacea, Amphipoda) from Japanese waters.. Otsuchi Marine Science. 24, 5-17.
Thiel, M., & Gutow L. (2005).  The ecology of rafting in the marine environment. II. The rafting organisms and community.
Vázquez-Luis, M., Guerra-García J. M., Sánchez-Jerez P., & Bayle-Sampere J. T. (2009).  Caprellid assemblages (Crustacea: Amphipoda) in shallow waters invaded by Caulerpa racemosa var cylindracea from southeastern Spain. . Helgoland Marine Research. 63, 107-117.
Wirtz, P. (1998).  Caprellid (Crustacea) - holothurian (Echinodermata) associations in the Azores. Arquipelago. 16A, 53-55,