information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A sea slater (Lekanesphaera rugicauda)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



This broadly oval species reaches a length of around 1 cm. The colour patterning is variable but usually grey with a medial, longitudinal stripe of yellow, orange or pinkish red extending the length of the body. The pleotelson is covered in small tubercles, giving it a granulated appearance and may extend beyond the tips of the uropods. The outer edge of the uropod exopod is almost smooth.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Common in brackish waters around the UK but few records in Ireland.

Global distribution

Found from the Baltic south to the Bay of Biscay and a single record from Morocco.


Lekanesphaera rugicauda is found in the upper intertidal of brackish waters. Often in salt marsh pools where it can be found burrowing or under rocks and wood.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Body broadly oval, grey typically with medial longitudinal stripe of yellow, orange or pinkish red.
  • Dorsal surface of pleotelson granulated, extending beyond tips of uropods in adult males.
  • Outer rami of uropod exopod almost smooth.

Additional information

There are two other species which may also be found in brackish waters in the UK and Ireland, Lekanesphaera levii and Lekanesphaera hookeri. These may be distinguished by having a smooth pleotelson and having two rows of distinct tubercles respectively, in contrast to the granulated pleotelson of Lekanesphaera rugicauda. The related species Sphaeroma serratum is not found in brackish habitats and can be distinguished by the distinctly serrate uropod exopod and a smooth pleotelson.

Listed by

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Further information sources

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    This review can be cited as:

    Hosie, A.M. 2009. Lekanesphaera rugicauda A sea slater. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 19-09-2018]. Available from:

    Last Updated: 07/01/2009