Abstract Mechanisms of copper toxicity and consequences of exposure vary due to uptake route and ionoregulatory status. The goal of this research was to develop a model fish system to assess the influence of different Cu exposure routes (waterborne or dietary) on bioavailability, uptake, and effects in hybrid striped bass ( Morone chrysops× Morone saxatilis) acclimated to fresh- or saltwater. Initially, hybrid striped bass were exposed to dietary Cu concentrations of 571, 785, and 1013 μg Cu/g, along with a control (∼ 5 μg Cu/g), for 14 days in saltwater. Intestinal and liver Cu accumulated in a dose-dependent manner in fish exposed to increasing levels of dietary Cu. Chronic (42 days) experiments were then conducted to determine sub-lethal effects of aqueous, dietary, and combined aqueous and dietary Cu exposures to both freshwater- and saltwater-acclimated hybrid striped bass. Growth and Cu accumulation in the gill, intestine, and liver were measured. Although no significant effects were observed in fish exposed to waterborne Cu, those exposed through the diet accumulated significant liver and intestinal Cu but showed no significant change in growth. Overall, these results suggest that at the levels tested, exposure to elevated waterborne Cu did not cause significant long-term tissue Cu accumulation, whereas dietary Cu exposure caused significant liver and intestinal Cu accumulation in hybrid striped bass which was comparable in both freshwater and saltwater (15 g/L).