Golden-headed Sleeper Goby

Blueband Goby ~ Blue-cheek Goby ~ Pennant Glider

Family: Gobiidae Picture of a Golden-headed Sleeper Goby, Blueband Goby, or Pennant Glider, Valenciennea strigataValenciennea strigataPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Rachel Dixon
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easy to keep fish once eating. i have raised a pair from very small to adulthood. they are now nearly 8 inches long and have laid eggs a few times. i have yet to... (more)  paul janjatovic

  "This lovely fish has a pearly white colour for the body and a yellow face with a blue stripe across the cheek. It is an easy-to-keep fish and makes an ideal introduction to gobies as long as there is enough substrate for them to sift through; it constantly digs for food particles...Rachel Dixon"   

   The Golden-headed Sleeper Goby, Blueband Goby, or Pennant Glider are not only pretty fish, but are great for a marine environment where you want the substrate to constantly be sifted through. These fish really use their mouths! They are constantly digging and turning over the sandy substrate. Besides this ongoing activity of "chewing" the sand, these gobies can communicate with each other by producing signals with their mouths.

For more Information on keeping this fish see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Marine Aquarium

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Actinopterygii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Family: Gobiidae
  • Genus: Valenciennea
  • Species: strigata
Golden head sleeper goby (Valenciennea strigata)
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Golden Headed Sleeper Goby in captivity looking thin.

This male Golden Headed Sleeper Goby, V. strigata, is a perfect example of how they eat and the challenges aquarists face. As you can see by the indented belly, this goby probably has internal worms and may be getting treated by the aquarist. No matter how much they are fed, the parasite will eventually kill them. Sadly, up to 85% of these fish are infected and should be treated upon purchase. Make sure they are eating in the store before buying since the medication needs to be soaked in food and fed to them. They do best in a tank that is 150 gallons or more; however in smaller tanks, they should be fed 4 times a day.

Golden Headed Sleeper Goby (Valenciennea strigata)
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A male and female pair in captivity.

This short and sweet video is an excellent example of a male and female pair of Golden Headed Sleeper Gobies. You can see the male is the one with the elongated 2nd dorsal spine and the female's first dorsal is short. They both look well fed and do not have concave bellies. Some aquarists in an attempt to prevent sand storms use rougher substrate, however this impedes their ability to feed an substrates like crushed coral will lacerate their mouths and gills. Provide them with bits of reef rubble, small rocks and large but broken up shells to build their house with. In a 150 gallon tank, feed 2ce a day, however in a minimum tank size of 75 gallons, they will need to be fed 4 times a day since the "live" sand in this sized tank will eventually be decimated and they are huge eaters!

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Maintenance difficulty:    The Golden-headed Sleeper Goby, Blueband Goby, or Pennant Glider are moderately difficult to keep, considered good for a more experienced aquarist with a larger system, where they can find plenty to eat.
   Like other members of the Valenciennea species, they feed by taking up mouthfuls of sand and pass it through their gill covers to extract small crustaceans, worms and algae. It is important that they have a sufficient amount of "live" sand for them to sift through.

Maintenance/Foods:    A typical goby, they eat small crustaceans and other small marine organisms. Live brine and a high protein krill are ideal for the aquarium. This fish thrives on nearly all marine frozen foods, live and flake foods once feeding.

Habitat: Natural geographical location:    Golden-headed Sleeper Goby, Blueband Goby, or Pennant Glider are found throughout the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. (They are technically no longer classified as a "sleeper" goby, which is the family Eleotridae).

Social Behaviors:    The live in pairs and like to burrow in the sand, especially juveniles.
  They are peaceful with other fish especially their own kind and may be considered safe to keep in pairs or small groups where space and filtration capacity allows

Sexual differences:    Unknown

Breeding/Reproduction:    Unknown

Light: Recommended light levels:    No special requirements.

Temperature:    No special requirements.

Length/Diameter of fish:    Golden-headed Sleeper Goby, Blueband Goby, or Pennant Glider adults can grow to 18 cm (7 inches) in the wild.

Minimum tank/length size:    A minimum 50 gallon aquarium is recommended.

Water movement:    No special requirements.

Water Region:   Spends most of its time on the bottom sifting sand.

Availability:    This fish is common and is moderately expensive.

Author: David Brough. CFS.
Lastest Animal Stories on Golden-headed Sleeper Goby

paul janjatovic - 2005-12-03
easy to keep fish once eating. i have raised a pair from very small to adulthood. they are now nearly 8 inches long and have laid eggs a few times. i have yet to try to raise the eggs. glass shrimp are ideal to feed to them. live sand is a must .....p

  • Linda - 2011-01-30
    I have a blue cheek pair who have been doing well the male looks great [quite fat] but the female has disappeared for 6 days now. Could she be hiding? Presumably it's best not to try to look for her and disturb the rocks. Has this happened with yours? They are approx 10 cm long. Thanks! Linda.
Geoff - 2008-02-05
Just an observation. The Valenciennea strigata and all other Valenciennea gobys' are definitely not a good reef fish.
It is constantly digging the substrate for food and deleting beneficial organisms that the reef owner would want. Not to mention, they then deposit the substrate all over the expensive corals.

  • Bob - 2010-12-04
    I agree with Geoff and have mixed feelings about this fish. It sifts sand which prevents a carpet of algae from forming, but it constantly grabs mouthfulls of sand and then swims about 8-10 inches up before releasing it. That sprinkles it over everything below. I have had mine a week, and not sure how long it will stay or if I can rearrange the corals away from the sand.
Heidi - 2010-07-08
Have a pair of sleeper goldenseal and what an amazing experience
It is to watch and observe. Likes the smallest pieces of chum, so I
call it. Shrimp, white fish, algae and such forth. Then go through the sand and grab the smallestest and then jeeps sifting. They have a few hiding places under rocks and such. Good eaters but like small shrimp& crustations! Cool fish.

jon - 2007-04-19
yeah.. i have a golden head sleeper and he is extremely territorial of his burrow. he sift sands onto the passing fish and wont let any one hang out by his burrow. i dont think this fish is as peaceful as its reputaion proceeds it. i found my close to dead sweetlips in his burrow once when i came from work, that fish is no longer in my tanks.