The freshwater paranthurid isopods have elongated bodies, making them look quite unlike the more familiar slater-shaped isopods. Paranthura is easily distinguished from the similar-shaped Cruregens by the presence of eyes (not visible in Cruregens). Paranthura usually has some speckled grey pigmentation, while Cruregens is generally pale.
Paranthura is usually found in or near estuaries, and may therefore not be a true freshwater species.
Related isopods are known to feed on algae and other components of biofilms.
Paranthura are probably more an indication of estuarine influence than any other aspects of water quality. There are no tolerance values assigned to this genus but the Order Isopoda has been assigned tolerance values of 5 (hard bottom sites) and 4.5 (soft bottom sites).