This study represents the first comprehensive molecular assessment of freshwater fishes and lampreys from Germany. We analysed COI sequences for almost 80% of the species mentioned in the current German Red List. In total, 1056 DNA barcodes belonging to 92 species from all major drainages were used to (i) build a reliable DNA barcode reference library, (ii) test for phylogeographic patterns, (iii) check for the presence of barcode gaps between species and (iv) evaluate the performance of the barcode index number (BIN) system, available on the Barcode of Life Data Systems. For over 78% of all analysed species, DNA barcodes are a reliable means for identification, indicated by the presence of barcode gaps. An overlap between intra- and interspecific genetic distances was present in 19 species, six of which belong to the genus Coregonus. The Neighbour-Joining phenogram showed 60 nonoverlapping species clusters and three singleton species, which were related to 63 separate BIN numbers. Furthermore, Barbatula barbatula, Leucaspius delineatus, Phoxinus phoxinus and Squalius cephalus exhibited remarkable levels of cryptic diversity. In contrast, 11 clusters showed haplotype sharing, or low levels of divergence between species, hindering reliable identification. The analysis of our barcode library together with public data resulted in 89 BINs, of which 56% showed taxonomic conflicts. Most of these conflicts were caused by the use of synonymies, inadequate taxonomy or misidentifications. Moreover, our study increased the number of potential alien species in Germany from 14 to 21 and is therefore a valuable groundwork for further faunistic investigations.