Community Involvement

Ruff Waters, Inc. is a local Omaha company that is based in Nebraska.

At Ruff Waters, Inc. we are committed to the community and
actively participate through volunteerism of both time and treasure.

We love Omaha! From schools, to businesses, to all the great things this city has to offer. With this, we try to give a little back to our community through silent auctions, sponsorships of teams, and involvement within classrooms. Below, please find a list of some of the organizations we have helped support in recent years.

Autism Action
Children's Hospital & Medical Center
Council Bluffs Community School District
Fontenelle Forest
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
Immanuel Medical Center Auxillary
Junior Achievement
Lakeside Hospital
Make-A-Wish Foundation
Memorial Park Baseball
Metropolitan Community College
Omaha Home for Boys
Quality Living, Inc.
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Voodoo Girls Softball
Westside Community Schools

Silent Auctions

Are you trying to raise money for your school, a special event, or something else? Ruff Waters might be able to help! We are always looking for new ways to assist in this area and over the last several years have donated trees, bubbling boulders, and pondless waterfalls.

School Involvement
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Are you looking for a guest speaker to spark interest in your classroom!? Ruff Waters is ready to help! We are always looking for a new gig and have donated our time to present at the college, high school, middle school and elementary school levels. From Accent Gardens to Entrepreneurship and Pond Construction to Ocean Friends - we enjoy working with students and are happy to help! Though all presentations are fun, the one nearest our heart is the Ocean Friends presentation at the Elementary School level. For the last decade we have brought some very friendly saltwater animals into this early learning setting and have seen faces "light up" with excitement.

Community Outreach

"The Twig" is a newsletter published every five months by the Omaha Home for Boys. In the September 2011 issue, Ruff Waters, Inc. is highlighted in the feature story. Preview the interesting article below.

Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
Small Business of the Month Award

Ruff Waters, Inc. is the proud nominee and recipient of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Month Award.

Below is a preview of the featured article, available directly on the Greater Omaha Chamber website.

September Small Business of the Month: Ruff Waters, Inc.

Published: Sept. 6, 2012

Amazing things can happen when you work hard, exceed customer expectations - and go with the flow. Just ask Scott Ruff, founder and chief customer care officer at Ruff Waters, Inc., the Greater Omaha Chamber's September Small Business of the Month.

Launched as an "on-the-side" aquarium installation and management business in 1990, Ruff Waters has made a smooth transition into a full-scale, multi-faceted enterprise. Aquariums led to pond installation which led to landscape design and installation, retaining walls, patios, fountains and other water features. Just last year, the company introduced container gardens to its vibrant mix of services.

"Our tagline has always been 'Many Choices. Always Beautiful.' which speaks to the breadth of our services and meticulous nature of our management," said Ruff.

Constantly striving to be better, Ruff fine-tuned the operation in 2011 by participating in the brand new Gallup Entrepreneur Acceleration System. The Chamber worked with Gallup for three years to develop the program, which utilizes economic development leaders as mentors. Other program partners include the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

"This program helped us shape who we are as a company and how we engage with our customers. With these principles, our internal relationships have been made stronger, and as a team we have strengthened relationships with our customers," said Ruff. "As a token part of this, I gave myself the new title of chief customer care officer which reflects our service culture and our commitment to the customer."

That commitment is highlighted in the company's mission statement which, Ruff said, guides daily operations: "To exceed customer expectations by creating exceptional visual displays with water and landscape through communication, interaction, innovation, imagination, knowledge and consistent management."

As the CCCO, Ruff said one of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing that mission statement reflected in the form of satisfied customers.

"What can I say - receiving positive feedback from customers never gets old! More than that though, if a customer takes the time to recognize an individual on our team, it means that person embraced our mission and went the extra mile. That to me is what service is all about - going the extra mile," he said.

Also rewarding to Ruff is community interaction. He particularly enjoys school visits and speaking to students of all ages about entrepreneurship. Sometimes, he brings guests.

"My favorite presentation is bringing saltwater animals into a primary education setting. We come loaded with treats and stickers and have a lot of fun with the kids. We've done this for more than 10 years. When you bring Nemo to visit, you can guess the response."

In addition to Nemo, Ruff has found a team of employees - five full-time and five part-time - who share his vision for supreme customer service and success.

"Our team today is a close-knit group that works cooperatively, not competitively, to grow our business and exceed expectations," he said. "We're always looking for that exceptional individual with a can-do attitude and solid work ethic."

Ruff Waters is a long-time Chamber member. Its affiliation dates back over a decade now.

Ruff said, "As a business owner and lifelong Omaha resident, I am thankful for what our Chamber does for our thriving business community and vibrant city. From networking events, to promoting business, to crafting legislation, to attracting leading corporations, our Chamber works tirelessly to make Omaha a great place to live and to help businesses succeed!"

Want to learn more about Ruff Waters, Inc.? Check out their website and watch a short video about them.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is the sponsor of the Small Business of the Month award. View more information or nominate a small business online.

Tap here to view the article on the Greater Omaha Chamber website, featuring Ruff Waters, Inc. as the small business of the month. Tap here to view a short promotional video that highlights Ruff Waters, Inc. as the small business of the month (recorded and published by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce).

The Daily Record
Ruff Waters Rides a Wave to Recognition

Ruff Waters, Inc. is the featured article in The Daily Record.

Below is a preview of the featured article, available directly on the Omaha Daily Record website.

Ruff Waters is making Omaha more beautiful,
one water feature at a time.

Ruff Waters Rides a Wave to Recognition

By Andy Roberts
The Daily Record

A fascination with the ocean and a desire to create something beautiful while treating customers in a one-of-a-kind fashion has led Scott Ruff and Ruff Waters to grow from a simple aquarium business to a multi-faceted company that continues to expand its offerings.

It also made Ruff Waters the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Month for September. That was something that Scott Ruff was not looking to happen.

"I was incredibly surprised and honored," Ruff admitted. "It was meaningful to me for two reasons: One, it meant we exceeded someone's expectations enough that they would nominate us and two, that the Chamber's board of directors, which is represented by some of Omaha's most well-known and respected companies, approved the nomination and awarded it to us."

Not bad for the little shop at 61st and Arbor Streets that started as a business with Ruff servicing aquariums. Today Ruff Waters has grown into something far more than that.

"We are a meticulous service company that ideally cares for everything we design and install - so we don't have standard 'retail' hours," Ruff said. "Our shop is open to the public by appointment, every Wednesday night from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m."

The company does a couple things to make it stand out even more from the competition. On Super Saturday, the first Saturday of the month, pizza is served to the customer. Ruff also said his refrigerator is always filled with refreshments.

And, given the importance of reef keeping, where water quality is highly important, Ruff Waters has a state-of-the-art RODI system - a water treatment system that prepares water for aquariums - that allows the shop to keep more than 400 gallons of pristine water on hand and ready to use.

"It is provided free of charge for customers that want to come get it," Ruff said. "We have actually developed a curbside pick-up that allows customers to fill their jugs without removing them from their car."

Ruff Waters now offers design, installation and management for aquariums, outdoor water features (like ponds, waterfalls and fountains), and landscapes. Last year the company added container gardens that brighten patios or entryways with colors and seasonal interest.

This year Ruff's company added lake management to its growing suite of services. The lake management programs are targeted to lakes that range in size from a quarter acre to more than 100 acres. The service uses all natural, non-chemical products that ensure crystal clear water that is free from algae and foul odors.

"Our tagline has always been 'Many Choices. Always Beautiful,'" Ruff pointed out. "That speaks to the breadth of our services and meticulous nature of our management.

Ruff admits it was his fascination with the ocean that led him into the business. He also expressed a fondness for water features in general and landscape designs/outdoor spaces that "are as functional as they are beautiful."

He started his business in 1990 while working days at First Data. The Westside High graduate had earned his marketing degree from UNL a year earlier.

"On nights and weekends I was a 'fish guy' caring for customers' aquariums," Ruff recalled. "In 2001 I decided to hang my corporate hat up and became an 'aquarium guy.'" Two part-time employees assisted him by day as he worked alone as a "pond guy" on nights and weekends. Things began to grow.

"With our commitment to ponds, many other opportunities were presented to us," he said. "Landscape design and installation, retaining walls, patios, fountains, and other water features ... all of which made sense to pursue."

Ruff Waters employs five people full time and five part-timers. When asked about a key player, Ruff points to someone who's not on the payroll.

"I have a weekly, standing lunch appointment at Petrow's with my father, Glenn," Ruff said. "Though not an employee, I can count on him to lend an attentive ear to my business dealings, as well as to assist me with several key financial reporting measures that were initiated in early 2011."

The employees are described as a "diverse group of people that work well together." Ruff said they come from different backgrounds and bring their own strengths.

When looking for employees, Ruff said he seeks people with a strong work ethic, can-do attitude, and the innate ability to please people and make them smile.

The business got a boost last year from Ruff's involvement in Gallup's Entrepreneurial Acceleration System. He said the program was created and launched by Gallup in 2011 to speed up business growth by helping entrepreneurs understand the power of the "Human Element."

According to Ruff: "Gallup has found key drivers of this element - motivations, attitudes and behaviors - that correlate with faster and more sustainable company growth."

The lessons learned have paid off, he said. "It definitely opened my eyes and changed the way I interact with my team and how we interact with our customers."

For Ruff, the customers are where it all starts.

"Customer care is job No. 1 and we love to make customers smile!" he said. "As a service company we have three driving principles that we refer to as the three 'R's at Ruff Waters - Relationship, Routine, and Results."

He explained that the relationships with customers start with service, but overlap a great deal into personal lives which over time has led to some great friendships.

"Our routine can be defined and measured by the consistency, dependability and overall service that we provide," he said. "As for results, well, we set the bar high and no matter the item in our care, we work diligently to ensure the end result is always beautiful."

Following those three principles has made for some very happy customers, Ruff said. Looking to the future is sure to bring a smile to Ruff's face, as this is a man who truly enjoys his work.

"Ask my wife, Mary. I am the guy who loves what he does and enjoys going to work everyday," Ruff said. "That said, I want to continue growing Ruff Waters and evaluate other opportunities as they present themselves."

One opportunity five years ago prompted the launch of an Internet business, Empire Aquatics. Ruff said the still-young company has shown steady growth and this will be the firm's best year. Another opportunity arose this year and involves sales activity on a national level, but he declined further comment on that venture.

"Beyond that, my goals are pretty simple and fairly broad," Ruff stated.

1) Make work fun.

2) Always try to see the big picture.

3) Continue to focus on things that show growth and are fruitful.

And fourth, "Make as many friends as I can along the way."

Sounds like the man has a plan.

Tap here to view the article on the Omaha Daily Record website, featuring Ruff Waters, Inc. as the headlining article.

Omaha World-Herald
College of Saint Mary Science Building Gets Native Nebraska Fish

Ruff Waters, Inc. is in this article in the Omaha World-Herald

Below is a preview of the featured article. The Omaha World-Herald article is available in print on the cover of the Midlands section and in the digital archives on the Omaha World-Herald website.

Student Ananya Mitra takes a turn putting native Nebraska fish in the new aquarium with help from Scott Ruff of Ruff Waters, the Omaha company that designed the set-up.

College of St. Mary science
building gets native Nebraska fish

By Leslie Reed
World-Herald Bureau

One fish, two fish, channel catfish, yellow perch ...

Science students at the College of St. Mary in Omaha lined up Wednesday to transfer 20 native Nebraska fish into a custom-designed, 520-gallon aquarium installed last week in the science building at the Catholic university for women.

The sleek, bow-front tank replaced a nondescript display case in the building's main hallway. Former student Alicia Clough, who graduated last May, came up with the idea for an aquarium about two years ago, after participating in a water quality research program at the college.

"I thought it would be awesome to have an aquarium there - but I wondered, 'Are we allowed to have actual live animals in biology?'" she said.

Jeff Keyte, an assistant professor of biology, answered that question with a resounding yes. He encouraged Clough to develop a formal proposal. She researched prices and vendors, and by fall 2011, administrators approved the $28,000 project, pending funding.

The biggest challenge was finding the money, Keyte said. Fortunately, Christine Pharr, vice president of academic affairs, loved the idea and helped solicit donations. She persuaded several members of her family, including her husband, father and aunt to contribute. Other donors included alumni, faculty and the Class of 2012.

An aquarium dedication ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 8, College of St. Mary spokeswoman Brittney Long said.

Ruff Waters, an Omaha company that specializes in aquariums, ponds and water features, designed the set-up, which includes an acrylic tank, state-of-the-art pumps that are energy-efficient and an LED lighting system that mimics sunrise, sunset, moonlight and even lightning.

Though it is not a research aquarium - the College of St. Mary is not authorized to perform research on vertebrates - Keyte said the aquarium will be used as a living laboratory to study water quality and the habits and life cycles of the fish. It will also foster a sense of community as science students in Keyte's classes take on the duties of feeding the fish, cleaning the tank and changing its water.

Clough got "first fish" honors.

Scott Ruff, owner of the aquarium company, chose bluegill, black crappie, catfish and perch for the exhibit. Using a small plastic container, he fished a 4-inch perch from its bucket and handed it to Clough, who climbed a stepstool to tip the fish into the tank. The swimmer quickly hid among the rocks and plastic plants.

Maryann Forsell, a biochemistry major from Norfolk, Neb., who keeps a betta fish in her dormitory room, transferred a bluegill into the tank. She said she was eager to watch the fish grow bigger.

Katie James, a biology and chemistry major from Omaha, said she plans to help care for the fish during her final semester.

"I'm excited about getting life into the science building," said James, an aspiring veterinarian who occasionally brings her pet python, Basil, to biology class.

Skyler Bentley, a junior biology major, said she planned to talk to her microbiology instructor about studying bacteria filtered from the water.

"Can we name them?" asked Ischel Gonzalez-Kelso, a chemistry major.

Several students started peering into the aquarium, studying the movements of the fish. One student remarked, "We've got to figure out their personalities and come up with twenty names."

Tao here to view the article on the Omaha World-Herald website. The article features work by Ruff Waters, Inc. and is accompanied by four related images.

Omaha Magazine
"An Epic Aquarium..."

Ruff Waters, Inc. is in this article in Omaha Magazine and also on

Below is a preview of the popular article. The Omaha Magazine article is available in print and online at the Omaha Magazine website.

The Sloan's Thriving Reef

An Epic Aquarium in Elkhorn

April 25, 2019
By Tamsen Butler
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Drive past the Sloan residence in Elkhorn and—if your eyes catch a glimpse of the front window, especially in the evening hours—there is a good chance you’ll slow your vehicle or feel compelled to stop and stare awhile.

Your lingering gaze won’t be because the house itself is impressive (though it is), but because of the massive saltwater aquarium visible through the window. Stewart and Diane Sloan admit they’ve witnessed more than one vehicle parked outside their home while the passengers watch the aquarium.

Situated in the kitchen and viewable from both sides, this 300-gallon aquarium was a collaborative effort between the Sloans, Wood Specialties, homebuilder Curt Hofer & Associates, and Scott Ruff of Ruff Waters Inc. "This was something that has not been done in Omaha to this level," says Ruff, explaining that a functioning aquarium of this size is extremely rare in residential settings.

Four thousand gallons of saltwater run through the house hourly to keep the aquarium running and the fish healthy. A small mechanical room in the lower level of the home is dedicated to the pumps and filtering system. "A lot of details went into this aquarium," Ruff says. "The last thing you’d want is for something like this to fail in a home."

Surprisingly, this is the first aquarium for the Sloans. Stewart says that the aquariums at Kona Grill were an inspiration for him. They all laugh when they remember a lunch meeting at Kona to start planning the aquarium. "Do you know what Scott ordered?" asks Diane, laughing. "Sushi!" The irony of an aquarium specialist ordering fish for lunch was not lost on them.

Though Stewart had some ideas for what he wanted the aquarium to be, he and Diane had one important rule: "I did not want to be the one maintaining it," Stewart says. "We couldn’t maintain this," Diane says, to which Stewart laughs and adds, "We can’t maintain ourselves!"

All they have to do is feed the fish and enjoy the view. A Ruff Waters technician takes care of the cleaning and maintenance. "The fish don’t like Travis [Bartman]," Diane says. She claims that the fish remember faces, so while they’ll gather at the glass when she approaches, they’ll all hide when Bartman comes around with his cleaning tools.

Diane runs a tight ship with the fish in her aquarium. "Diane taps on the glass when the fish get naughty," Stewart says. She enjoys giving visitors a tour of the tank, using a flashlight to point out the different fish and the anemones. Each fish has a story—and a name. "They all have different personalities," Diane says. And while Stewart says the "clownfish are always a favorite," they both agree that Popeye the shrimp is their very favorite aquarium resident.

The aquarium turned out "better than I envisioned," Diane says. The people in cars coming to a screeching halt outside their house would probably agree.

Tap here to view the article on the Omaha Magazine website. The article features work by Ruff Waters, Inc.

Children's Hospital & Medical Center and
Ruff Waters, Inc. Sign a 3-year Agreement
Pediatric Leader chooses Award-Winning Omaha Company

October 2014

Omaha, NE - Children's Hospital & Medical Center and Ruff Waters, Inc. have agreed to a 3-year contract for aquarium design, installation and management services. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Proudly serving children since 1948, Children's Hospital & Medical Center ( is recognized as a 2014-15 Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report in cardiology and heart surgery, gastroenterology and GI surgery, pulmonology and orthopedics. It is the only full-service, pediatric health care center in Nebraska providing expertise in more than 30 pediatric specialty services to children across a five-state region and beyond. Located in Omaha, the 139-bed, non-profit hospital operates the only Level II Pediatric Trauma Center in the region and offers 24-hour, in-house services by pediatric critical care specialists.

Children's is committed to the patient experience, of which the aquariums throughout their facility are an important piece. Aquariums have been proven to create serenity and make for beautiful displays in medical, office and residential environments.

"Our aquariums are an important part of our facility, due to the interaction and engagement they provide, and we have made a commitment to them," says Pat Bennett, manager of Environmental Services at Children's. "Patients, guests, and staff really enjoy them."

All five aquariums at Children's have been transitioned to saltwater and range in complexity from reef systems to fish-only displays. The agreement allows for increased time on-site to ensure that the aquariums are happy and always look their best.

"Ruff Waters has delivered a level of service that is exceptional - both to Children's and the animals in their care," adds Bennett. "While this agreement will benefit both parties, the real winners are the children who love aquariums."

Ruff Waters, Inc. is an award-winning, small business that is proudly rooted in Omaha. For more than 25 years, they have designed, installed and managed aquariums, ponds, landscapes and fountains in a five-state region, while maintaining a strong working relationship with the Omaha community.

"We are honored to have been awarded this opportunity and are committed to Children's Hospital & Medical Center," says Scott Ruff, Chief Customer Care Officer at Ruff Waters. "They know children. Children love aquariums. We know aquariums. It sounds like the beginning of a special partnership."

If you would like more information about Aquarium Services or Ruff Waters, Inc., please email

Ruff Waters, Inc. Acquires Triton

January 2021

Ruff Waters, Inc. Acquires
Triton Aquarium Services

Aquatic Services Leader Buys
Established Aquarium Service Company

Omaha, NE – Ruff Waters, Inc. has acquired Triton Aquarium Services. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Proudly serving customers since 1990, Ruff Waters, Inc. ( is an award winning, recognized leader in the design, installation and management of Aquariums, Ponds, Landscapes and Fountains. Headquartered in Omaha, they provide a broad array of specialized service to business and residential customers in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.

"We are excited to welcome Triton customers to our service team," said Scott Ruff, President and CEO. "We have built and fine-tuned a multi-layered, service structure that is ideally suited to ensure customer satisfaction and deliver amazing results." Gabe Smith, owner of Triton Aquarium Services added, "Ruff Waters, Inc. is a premier service provider in the aquatics industry. The idea of this acquisition started about five years ago over lunch, and in the course of that time, Scott and I have had many conversations on business, service and quality. This is a big win for Triton’s customers and for Ruff Waters, Inc."

As a regional leader in Aquarium Management and Pond Management Services, Ruff Waters, Inc. has enjoyed double digit customer growth over the last five years and looks to continue this growth into the future. "We will continue to grow our business through proven channels while providing exceptional service. Beyond that, we are exploring partnerships and additional acquisitions, that increase our geographical footprint, improve our customer’s experience, diversify partner service offerings and improve every financial measure."

"2020 marked our 30th year in business and we anticipate accelerated growth, opportunity and fun in the next 30," Ruff concluded.

If you would like to learn more about Aquatic Services offered or Ruff Waters, Inc., please email