Notropis is Greek for "back keel" and amabilis is Latin for "lovely." The Texas shiner is distinguished by large eyes, black lips and a clear stripe just above a black stripe along its side. The stripe is most distinct toward the rear of the fish, close to the tail fin. There are 9 rays on the anal fin.
Texas shiners are predaceous and their large eyes are believed to be an adaptation for sight feeding in swift water. The species is typically found in schools, with individuals as large as 2.5 inches. Spawning behavior has not been studied.
Typical habitat includes rocky or sandy runs, as well as pools.
The species range includes portions of Mexico as well as Texas. In Texas, it is found primarily in Edwards Plateau streams from the San Gabriel River in the east to the Pecos River in the west. In Mexico, the species is found in Rio Grande tributaries including Rio Salado and Rio San Juan.