Heavy metals can be adsorbed by living or non-living biomass. Submerged aquatic plants can be used for the removal of heavy metals. In this paper, lead, zinc, and copper adsorption properties of Ceratophyllum demersum (Coontail or hornwort) were investigated and results were compared with other aquatic submerged plants. Data obtained from the initial adsorption studies indicated that C demersum was capable of removing lead, zinc, and copper from solution. The metal biosorption was fast and equilibrium was attained within 20 min. Data obtained from further batch studies conformed well to the Langmuir Model. Maximum adsorption capacities (q(max)) onto C demersum were 6.17 mg/g for Cu(II), 13.98 mg/g for Zn(II) and 44.8 mg/g for Pb(II). Kinetics of adsorption of zinc, lead and copper were analysed and rate constants were derived for each metal. It was found that the overall adsorption process was best described by pseudo second-order kinetics. The results showed that this submerged aquatic plant C demersum can be successfully used for heavy metal removal under dilute metal concentration. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.