The starhead topminnow may attain a length of two to three inches. The female has six to eight thin, dark stripes on each side while the male has from three to 13 dark bars on each side. A wedge-shaped, dark bar extends downward from each eye. The dorsal ﬁn is situated directly above the anal ﬁn. The back is yellow-green with a gold spot on the top of the head and a smaller spot at the front of the dorsal ﬁn. The sides are silver. The male has a blue iris in each eye and red spots in the dorsal, anal and tail ﬁns.
The starhead topminnow may be found in the Mississippi, Illinois and Wabash rivers and in the northern one-fourth of Illinois. This ﬁsh lives in standing water bodies with vegetation and in streams. The starhead topminnow spawns in spring and summer. It may be found in pairs or alone, but not in schools. It swims at the surface, eating insects, snails, small crustaceans and algae.