Pretreated fish bones obtained from engraulis European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), European anchovy (Sardine pilchardus), bogue (Boops boops), bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) and gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) were used as natural, cost-effective, waste sorbents for the adsorption and removal of copper from aqueous systems. The removal efficiency of the adsorbent was investigated as a function of pH, contact time, initial metal concentration, temperature, cleaning process, fish species and adsorbent dose. The maximum adsorption capacity was 150.7 mg/g at optimum conditions. The kinetic results of adsorption obeyed a pseudo-second-order model. Copper adsorption fitted the Langmuir isotherm. Delta H-0 value was 12.9 kJ/mol indicating that the adsorption mechanism was endothermic. The activation energy, E-a, was determined as 52.9 kJ/mol. Weber-Morris and Urano-Tachikawa diffusion models were also applied to experimental equilibrium data. The fish bones were effectively used as a sorbent for the removal of Cu ions from aqueous solution. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.