Among those at the greatest risk of dying out are several species from UK rivers and lakes including the European eel, Shetland charr and many little known fish that have become isolated in remote waterways in Wales and Scotland.
Others critically endangered include types of sturgeon, which provide some of the world’s most expensive caviar, and giant river dwellers such as the Mekong giant catfish and freshwater stingray, which can grow as long as 15 feet.
The scientists have blamed human activities such as overfishing, pollution and construction for pushing so many species to the brink of extinction.
They also warn that the loss of the fish could have serious implications for humans. In Africa alone more than 7.5 million people rely on freshwater fish for food and income.
The precarious status of the species has been revealed in interim results from the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List assessment of freshwater fish.