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Ophiothryx fragilis

Ophiothryx fragilis

Common brittle star

   Ophiothryx fragilis is a brittle star reaching a diameter of up to 16 cm. The central disc has a diameter of about 2 cm and the five thick arms are around 7 cm long. The arms are densely covered by numerous spines. The colour is variable: pink, red, beige, brown, sometimes uniformedly coloured, sometimes multicoloured. Common brittle stars use to draw up their arms to catch food particles brought by water movements. These particles are convey into the mouth by means of numerous tube-feet scattered along the arms. These may frequently be seen emerging from seaweeds, sponges, rocks or sandy wrecks where common brittle stars find current-swept hiding places and where they may live in dense groups.
It is found from surface to depths down to 500 m, in the Atlantic Ocean, the English channel, the North Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.


 (source : European Register of Marine Species)

  • Echinodermata [Phylum]
  • Asterozoa [Subphylum]
  • Stelleroidea [Class]
  • Ophiuroidea [Subclass]
  • Ophiurida [Order]
  • Ophiurina [Suborder]
  • Gnathophiurina [Infraorder]
  • Ophiotrichidae [Family]
  • Ophiothrix fragilis (Abildgaard, 1789)

Page glossary

Tube foot : Tube-shaped element ending by a sucker-disc used to attach to subtratum or to bring food particles into the mouth.


Top Photo :
© Wilfried Bay-Nouailhat. Published with author's kind permission : 
Ophiothryx fragilis, Ria d'Etel, South-Brittany, West of France. Depth 12 meters.
Text :  Anne Bay-Nouailhat © 2005-2020.
Translation :  Anne Bay-Nouailhat © 2007-2020.

How to cite this page in publications

Bay-Nouailhat A., September 2005, Description of Ophiothryx fragilis, Available on line at http://www.european-marine-life.org/30/ophiothryx-fragilis.php, consulted on 10 July 2020.
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