The Indian mackerel is generally found in shallow, coastal waters, where the surface water temperature is at least 17 °C (63 °F). macroplankton including the larvae of shrimp and fish. Adults of this species are found in coastal bays, harbours and deep lagoons. They are commonly found in turbid waters rich in plankton.

Adult Indian mackerel feed on macroplankton including the larvae of shrimp and fish.

The body of the Indian mackerel is moderately deep, and the head is longer than the body depth. The maxilla are partly concealed, covered by the lacrimal bone, but extend till around the hind margin of the eye.

These fish have thin dark longitudinal bands on the upper part of the body, which may be golden on fresh specimens. There is also a black spot on the body near the lower margin of the pectoral fin. Dorsal fins are yellowish with black tips, while the caudal and pectoral fins are yellowish. The remaining fins are dusky.

Indian mackerel reach a maximum fork length of 35 centimetres (14 in), but are generally around 25 centimetres (9.8 in) in length.