Topminnows have a habit of skimming along just beneath the surface of the water, so the top of the head and forward part of the back are broad and flat, and the mouth is tilted upward so it opens at the upper surface of the head. The body body is long, there is no lateral line, and the single dorsal fin is located far back over the anal fin. The tail fin is rounded. None of the fins have spines.
This particular species of topminnow is light brown with a broad, black horizontal stripe along the midside. There is no dusky vertical bar beneath the eye. It has a wider black longitudinal stripe than its cousin, the blackspotted topminnow.