Animal Species:Black-lined Sleeper Goby, Valenciennea helsdingenii (Bleeker, 1858)

The Black-lined Sleeper Goby has 2 distinct longitudinal stripes along the side of it's head and body.The adults are found in shallow areas of large coastal bays and on deep slopes. While juveniles are usually close to rocks in clear estuaries.

A Black-lined Sleeper Goby at the Osprey Reef

A Black-lined Sleeper Goby at the Osprey Reef
Photographer: Erik Schlögl © Erik Schlögl

Standard Common Name

Black-lined Sleeper Goby


The Black-lined Sleeper Goby is white with two black to orange stripes on the head and body. There is a white-edged black spot on the first dorsal fin.

The caudal fin of juveniles is rounded. Adults have a pair of elongate caudal fin filaments.

Size range

The species grows to 18 cm in length.


It occurs in tropical and some temperate waters of the Indo-West Pacific.

In Australia it is known from the northern Great Barrier Reef, Queensland to southern New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums. Click on the map for detailed information.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Valenciennea helsdingenii

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Black-lined Sleeper Goby specimens in the Australian Museum.

What does this mean?


Adults are found in shallow areas of large coastal bays and on deep slopes. Juveniles are found close to rocks in clear estuaries.



What does this mean?


  1. Kuiter, R.H. 1996. Guide to Sea Fishes of Australia. New Holland. Pp. 433.
  2. Kuiter, R.H. 2000. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia. Gary Allen. Pp. 437.
  3. Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & R.C. Steene. 1997. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea. Crawford House Press. Pp. 557.

Mark McGrouther , Senior Fellow
Last Updated:

Tags fish, ichthyology, Black-lined Sleeper Goby, Valenciennea helsdingenii, Gobiidae, white, long and skinny, 10 cm - 30 cm, stripes, coral reef, marine, black to orange stripes on the head and body,


Mark McGrouther - 4.11 PM, 10 November 2010

Hi MattD,  I have heard back from the expert, the Australian Museum's own Doug Hoese.  He said that the fish could in fact be an undescribed species as stated in Kuiter (2000).  In Hoese and Larson's 1994 revision of the genus Valenciennea, the species was called V. immaculata.

Mark McGrouther - 10.10 AM, 11 October 2010

Hi MattD,  Great image!  Thank you for submitting it.  I don't think that your fish is a Black-lined Sleeper Goby.  I think that it is probably the Red-Lined Sleeper Goby, Valenciennea sp.  The species is shown on page 361 of Kuiter (2000) - see references above.  I don't believe that the species has been formally named (ie, it has no species name) but I will check and let you know.

MattD - 11.10 AM, 07 October 2010
Hi Mark Is this fish the same as the one in my picture. I took this photo at Fly Point 2 weeks ago. Sorry that the Picture is not that sharp. Regards Matt Dowse

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