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The Indo-Pacific gobiid genus Valenciennea is distinctive from other gobiids in having completely separate pelvic fins, reduced gill rakers on the first arch, large fleshy flaps dorsally on the gill arch, single row of teeth in the upperjaw, small scales in 62-142 rows, second dorsal and anal rays I,11-19, relatively large adult body size of 30 to about 160 mm SL, and usually with one or more longitudinal stripes on the head and often the body.
Fifteen species are recognized, separable on the basis of scale and fin-ray counts, first dorsal fin shape, and color pattern: V. alleni, n. sp., described from Australia, has 2 stripes on the body, a black spot at the tip of the first dorsal fin, and second dorsal rays usually I,15; V. bella, n. sp. from Japan and the Philippines, has a single head stripe, no body stripes, second dorsal usually I,15, and a high first dorsal fin; V. decora, n. sp. from Australia and New Caledonia, has one or more vertical bars connected to a single ventral stripe, an elongate black bar on the first dorsal fin, and second dorsal I,11; V. helsdingenii, widespread in the Indo-west Pacific, has an elongate black spot on the first dorsal fin, 2 dark stripes on the body, and 2 elongate filaments on the caudal fin; V. immaculata, with a disjunct distribution (China, Western Australia, and southeastern Australia), has 2 stripes on the body, a low rounded first dorsal fin without black spots, and second dorsal usually I,14-17 (it is most similar to V. alleni); V. limicola, n. sp. described from Thailand and Fiji, has 2 stripes on the body, a low rounded first dorsal fin without black spots, and second dorsal usually I,17; V. longipinnis, a widespread species from the eastern Indian Ocean and western Pacific, has a low rounded first dorsal fin, horseshoe-shaped marks on the midside, and second dorsal I,12; V. muralis, similar to and having the same distribution as V. longipinnis, has 3 stripes on the body, a pointed first dorsal fin. with a small black spot at the tip, and second dorsal I,12; V. parva, n. sp., a widespread Indo-west Pacific dwarf species, has longitudinal stripes, a low rounded first dorsal fin, and second dorsal I,12 (juveniles are easily mistaken for V. longipinnis, which has higher scale counts); V. persica, n. sp., endemic to the Persian Gulf, has a single stripe posteriorly on the body, a longitudinal series of spots above the midside, and second dorsal ray counts of I,13-14 (it is most similar to V. puellaris); V. puellaris, a widespread Indo-west Pacific species which varies considerably geographically is distinctive in having a moderately high first dorsal fin without black spots, body with a single stripe and spots or oblique or vertical bars on body, and second dorsal I,12; V. randalli, n. sp. from the western Pacific, has a high first dorsal fin, a single stripe on the body, and second dorsal usually I,l7 (it is similar to V. bella and V. strigata); V. sexguttata, a widespread Indo-west Pacific species, has a pointed first dorsal fin with a black spot at the tip, round spots on the head, a single stripe on the body, and second dorsal I,l2; V. strigata, a widespread Indo-west Pacific species, has a high first dorsal fin without black spots, no stripe on the body, and second dorsal usually I,17-18; V. wardii, a rare, but widespread Indian Ocean and western Pacific species, has a large black spot posteriorly on the first dorsal. a series of vertical bars, no stripe on body, and second dorsal I,12.
Fishes of the genus dig their own burrows and most species occur in male-female pairs. These fishes feed on small invertebrates, particularly copepods, by sifting sand. The species are typically associated with specific types of sediment, and only rarely does more than one species occur in the same habitat.
Considerable geographical variation was found in fin-ray and scale counts in several species, but only V. puellaris, V. sexguttata, and V. wardii showed much variation in coloration.