Due to their underwater habitat, it is often quite impossible to track down the population trends of a fish species. So, only a few fishes have been confirmed as ‘Extinct’ by the IUCN, with the rest being considered possibly extinct. The possibly extinct species are officially recorded as ‘Critically Endangered’ but with little hope of any surviving specimen, based on how many years have passed since their last sighting.

For example, the shortnose cisco has not been seen since the year 1985, while the last sighting of the Diyarbakir loach was back in 1970. The Java stingaree has not been seen since it was first discovered, over 150 years ago.

Why Are Fishes Going Extinct

Like any other habitat, the primary threat to any aquatic animals is mainly overfishing and other human activities that lead to habitat destruction and pollution. Global warming and climate change are vital factors as well.

List of Extinct and Possibly Extinct Fishes

Cartilaginous fishes (Chondrichthyes)

Possibly Extinct

  • Java stingaree (Urolophus javanicus)



  • Eudontomyzon sp. ‘migratory’

Ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii)

64 extinct, 6 extinct in the wild, 84 possibly extinct

Acipenseriformes (sturgeons and paddlefishes)

Possibly Extinct

  • Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii)
  • Syr Darya sturgeon (Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi)
  • Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius)
  • Dabry’s sturgeon (Acipenser dabryanus)

Salmoniformes (salmon, trout, chars etc.)


  • Longjaw cisco (Coregonus alpenae)
  • Coregonus fera
  • Coregonus gutturosus
  • Gravenche (Coregonus hiemalis)
  • Coregonus bezola
  • Deepwater cisco (Coregonus johannae)
  • Salmo pallaryi
  • Silver trout (Salvelinus agassizii)
  • Coregonus restrictus
  • Houting (Coregonus oxyrinchus)
  • Salvelinus neocomensis
  • Salvelinus profundus

Possibly Extinct

  • Shortnose cisco (Coregonus reighardi)
  • Coregonus hoferi

Extinct in the wild

  • Inconnu (Stenodus leucichthys)

Toothcarps (killifish, guppy, molly etc.)


  • Parras characodon (Characodon garmani)
  • Villa Lopez pupfish (Cyprinodon ceciliae)
  • Tecopa pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis calidae)
  • Aplocheilichthys sp. ‘Naivasha’
  • Cachorrito de la Trinidad (Cyprinodon inmemoriam)
  • Splendid killifish (Aphanius splendens)
  • Parras pupfish (Cyprinodon latifasciatus)
  • Santa Cruz pupfish (Cyprinodon arcuatus)
  • Catarina pupfish (Megupsilon aporus)
  • Graceful priapella (Priapella bonita)
  • San Marcos gambusia (Gambusia georgei)
  • Ash Meadows killifish (Empetrichthys merriami)
  • Whiteline topminnow (Fundulus albolineatus)
  • Amistad gambusia (Gambusia amistadensis)
  • Pantanodon madagascariensis

Possibly Extinct

  • Fundulopanchax powelli
  • Aphyolebias claudiae
  • Pantanodon sp. ‘Manombo’

Extinct in the wild

  • Potosi pupfish (Cyprinodon alvarezi)
  • Golden skiffia (Skiffia francesae)
  • La Palma pupfish (Cyprinodon longidorsalis)

Cypriniformes (minnows, carps, loaches etc.)


  • Beysehir bleak (Alburnus akili)
  • Plateau chub (Evarra eigenmanni)
  • Iznik shemaya (Alburnus nicaeensis)
  • Mexican dace (Evarra bustamantei)
  • Endorheic chub (Evarra tlahuacensis)
  • Snake River sucker (Chasmistes muriei)
  • Harelip sucker (Moxostoma lacerum)
  • Thicktail chub (Gila crassicauda)
  • Hula bream (Mirogrex hulensis)
  • Phantom shiner (Notropis orca)
  • Durango shiner (Notropis aulidion)
  • Clear Lake splittail (Pogonichthys ciscoides)
  • Salado shiner (Notropis saladonis)
  • Las Vegas dace (Rhinichthys deaconi)
  • Handlirsch’s minnow (Pseudophoxinus handlirschi)
  • Danube delta gudgeon (Romanogobio antipai)
  • Stumptooth minnow (Stypodon signifer)
  • Pahranagat spinedace (Lepidomeda altivelis)
  • Anabarilius macrolepis
  • Chondrostoma scodrense
  • Barbus microbarbis
  • Cyprinus yilongensis

Possibly Extinct

  • Long-spine bream (Acanthobrama centisquama)
  • Dianchi carp (Cyprinus micristius)
  • Siamese bala-shak (Balantiocheilos ambusticauda)
  • Haditha cavefish (Caecocypris basimi)
  • Diyarbakir spined loach (Cobitis kellei)
  • Damascus bream (Acanthobrama tricolor)
  • Bovany barb (Neolissochilus bovanicus)
  • Akstafa spring roach (Pseudophoxinus sojuchbulagi)
  • Barada spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus syriacus)
  • Diyarbakir loach (Paraschistura chrysicristinae)
  • Deolali minnow (Parapsilorhynchus prateri)
  • Deccan barb (Puntius deccanensis)
  • Schistura nasifilis
  • Hypselobarbus pulchellus
  • Systomus compressiformis
  • Poropuntius chonglingchungi
  • Anabarilius qiluensis
  • Cyprinus barbatus
  • Cyprinus ilishaestomus
  • Cyprinus qionghaiensis
  • Cyprinus yunnanensis
  • Anabarilius yangzonensis

Gasterosteiformes (sticklebacks and other related families)


  • Techirghiol stickleback (Gasterosteus crenobiontus)

Osmeriformes (freshwater allies and smelts)


  • New Zealand grayling (Prototroctes oxyrhynchus)



  • Siamese flat-barbelled catfish (Platytropius siamensis)
  • Scioto madtom (Noturus trautmani)

Possibly Extinct

  • Nilgiri mystus (Hemibagrus punctatus)
  • Lake Victoria deepwater catfish (Xenoclarias eupogon)
  • Rhizosomichthys totae

Perciformes (perches, sea bass, groupers, mackerel, tuna, icefish, billfish etc.)


  • Long jaw tristramella (Tristramella sacra)
  • Maryland darter (Etheostoma sellare)
  • Ptychochromis onilahy
  • Ptychochromoides itasy
  • Tristramella intermedia
  • Ctenochromis pectoralis
  • Tristramella magdelainae
  • Xystichromis bayoni

Possibly Extinct

  • Galapagos damsel (Azurina eupalama)
  • Danube delta dwarf goby (Knipowitschia cameliae)
  • Haplochromis antleter
  • Haplochromis aelocephalus
  • Haplochromis apogonoides
  • Haplochromis bareli
  • Haplochromis barbarae
  • Haplochromis crassilabris
  • Haplochromis argenteus
  • Haplochromis cassius
  • Haplochromis brownae
  • Haplochromis coprologus
  • Haplochromis hiatus
  • Haplochromis ishmaeli
  • Haplochromis heusinkveldi
  • Haplochromis guiarti
  • Haplochromis granti
  • Haplochromis dichrourus
  • Haplochromis flavipinnis
  • Haplochromis dentex
  • Haplochromis katunzii
  • Haplochromis microdon
  • Haplochromis martini
  • Haplochromis mylergates
  • Haplochromis longirostris
  • Haplochromis michaeli
  • Haplochromis macrognathus
  • Haplochromis nanoserranus
  • Haplochromis pancitrinus
  • Haplochromis nanoserranus
  • Haplochromis plutonius
  • Haplochromis perrieri
  • Haplochromis ptistes
  • Haplochromis percoides
  • Haplochromis sulphureus
  • Haplochromis teegelaari
  • Haplochromis sphex
  • Haplochromis pyrrhopteryx
    Haplochromis xenostoma
  • Haplochromis ushindi
  • Sciaena callaensis
  • Haplochromis theliodon
  • Haplochromis vonlinnei
  • Haplochromis victorianus

Clupeiformes (herrings and anchovies)

Possibly Extinct

  • Alosa vistonica

Scorpaeniformes (lionfish, flatheads, velvetfish, greenlings etc.)


  • Utah Lake sculpin (Cottus echinatus)

What Would Happen if All Fish Went Extinct

Apart from one major food source for humans being wiped out, all terrestrial and aquatic animals who feed solely on fish will also perish. Additionally, any small and large fishing towns (places where fishing is the foundation of the economy) will also cease to exist.

Fishes and marine creatures, in general, play a vital role in preventing water pollution; so if there are no fish in the waters, the seas and oceans will never be the same, and the world itself will never be the same.


Even today, lots of fishes are being pushed to the brink of extinction due to overfishing, including haddock, halibut, sea bass, Atlantic cod, and salmon. And the truth is, threatened fishes do not get the same attention as mammals and reptiles for their conservation.

Sometimes, a certain species might still exist in the depths of a sea or ocean, making an appearance years after they are thought to be extinct. The Pondicherry shark is one such example that was spotted alive in a Sri Lankan river in 2016, after over 100 years, with the last positive sightings being before 1900.

List of All Extinct Fish