By Dave Kelly

Aquascape Pond Air

Every process that happens in the ponds ecosystem is dependent on oxygen.  Your fish require it to survive and the beneficial bacteria you add rely on it help clean the pond.  Oxygen is especially important in the evening after the sun goes down and the aquatic plants are no longer photosynthesizing C02 into oxygen.  Adding thePond Air system will help maintain proper oxygen levels in your pond throughout the day and night, creating a more stable pond environment.

The Pond Air comes complete with winter resistant air-line, preassembled check valves and either two or four aeration discs depending on the model size.

Aquascape Pond Air


What’s great, is that the Pond Air kit comes ready to go right out of the box and only requires a few quick installation steps.

The Pond Air pump is also easy to maintain.  For example, each Pond Air includes a diaphragm cartridge that is able to be replaced if it ever wears out.  The inexpensive and easy to replace cartridges ensure that the Pond Air will provide you with years of trouble free service.

The Pond Air can also be used during the winter months where the bubbles created at the surface can help keep a small hole open in the ice for oxygenation.

The Pond Air is very energy efficient, costing less than one dollar to operate per month and is easily one of the most cost effective solutions for increasing oxygen and circulation throughout the pond.

The Importance of a Pond Skimmer


BY: Gary Wittstock

Co-Authored with Ed Beaulieu

The year was 1988; we were in the 6th year of our hobby, we had a love/hate relationship with our pond as most pond owners did during the early years of the hobby.

The allure of a crystal clear pond was nothing short of a dream as it was only achieved the day after it was filled with fresh water.

As the season progressed the fish slowly disappeared under a cloudy layer of surface scum and green water not to be seen until the next year’s pond clean out. And what a mess that always was!

Our quest had begun!

How could we lower our maintenance and improve overall water quality?

We started experimenting and researching everything we could but this was pre-Internet, we actually had to go to the library to find information on our new found love affair with aquatic ecosystems…

Garys Blog - pond pumps hard to access
Pond pumps are difficult to access if not using a skimmer.

Some of our challenges with our first concrete soup-bowl pond were:

  • Clogged pumps that sat at the bottom of our pond
  • The challenge of hiding the pump hose from the pond to the falls
  • The large quantity of debris that accumulated each year on the bottom of the pond (2-3″ of pond-scum)

Garys Blog - hard way to skim pond
The HARD WAY to skim clean a pond.

Garys Blog - clogged pump
Clogged pump from in pond use.

Shazam! What do we find but a Family Handyman article on skimmers for ponds. Jackpot. It was a garbage can fitted with a pool skimmer. Finally a way to catch debris before it sank to the pond bottom, hide the pump outside the pond AND… get the pump tubing outside the pond without trying in vain to hide the pump discharge pipe. That pipe could now be buried outside the pond as it headed over to the water fall because the pump itself could be installed outside the pond.

Garys Blog - garbage can skimmer
Garbage can skimmer

If there was just one filter I could choose when installing a pond, hands-down it would be a skimmer. Here’s why: A pump is necessary to create circulation for filtration and to create a waterfall (one of our favorite pond features!). And as long as you’re going to have a pump why not move that pump outside the pond so it can move surface water to create a skimming action and be easily accessed for service. Also, and this is HUGE. ALL PONDS ACT LIKE DIRT TRAPS. As the winds blow the currents carry all manner of dust and debris that are captured by the surface of the water. All this dust and debris like leaves and seeds in particular, get trapped by the water and soon sink to the bottom of the pond. Once there they will foul the water, turn into “pond scum” and are very difficult to remove without draining the pond. Even bottom drains which do help keep deep ponds cleaner cannot clean the entire bottom of a pond without jets, aeration and other complex and costly additions. But by simply placing and hiding a pump outside the pond the simple power of that pump in a well-designed skimmer filter will PREVENT most pond debris from ever sinking into the pond by skimming the surface while this debris is still floating on the pond’s surface. Skimmers are essential to keep any body of water as clean as possible and there’s no better filter for reducing pond maintenance and keeping the water safe for your fish!

Garys Blog - original skimmer design
Original Skimmer design.

I’ve heard and understand arguments that moving the pump outside the pond impairs full top-to-bottom pond circulation. On shallow ponds like water gardens that are two feet or less deep this is not an issue. The skimmer alone will create enough current in the pond to ensure full circulation. On deeper ponds that are 4 or 5 feet deep jets or bottom drains can be added to ensure optimal circulation.

Pond Circulation - Skimmer Vs Bottom
Placing the pump in the deepest area draws currents from the waterfall, but not the far end of the pond. Locating a skimmer on the opposite end from the waterfall ensures full pond circulation.

Also locating the skimmer on the perimeter will automatically increase the overall circulation of the pond versus having the pump located on the bottom in the deepest point. Ideally place the skimmer on the opposite side of the pond from the waterfall for optimum circulation.

A skimmer acts as a safety system for your pond and fish, if any type of water loss or leak occurs in the piping system, waterfall or stream; the skimmer will only allow the water loss to occur in the top 6″ of the pond or basically to the bottom of the skimmer opening. When the pond water level reaches that point no more water will enter the skimmer so the pond will stop draining! When the pump or bottom drain are located on the bottom of the pond they will completely drain the pond of water during a leak leaving the fish high and dry! I’ve heard many a horror story of just that happening and it’s truly tragic.

The skimmer is also the perfect measuring device; the skimmer opening will show the optimum water level so there’s no guessing what the water level is.

The skimmer is a solid connection point for a waterfill device; the water level can easily be established using the skimmer opening as a measurement. Later in its evolution we added the overflow fitting to deal with excess water.

A skimmer has multiple barriers in place to keep critters from getting to the pump compared to putting a pump directly in the pond.

When we tore out portions of our classroom concrete pond to fix the leaking basin and ugly pond edges, we also added a new garbage can skimmer complete with its own set of wheels. We followed the directions from the article and added a net bag that we purchased from a dry cleaner. It was a laundry bag that was quite strong and suitable for catching the debris our new skimmer would collect from the pond’s surface. We purchased a swimming pool skimmer with a 6″ opening and built-in plastic weir that floats on the surface of the pond. This is a very valuable part of the skimmer design as the floating weir ensures optimal surface flow so most of the pond debris gets pulled into the skimmer net or filter pads before it can sink. We modified the standard swim pool skimmer by cutting off the circular collection basket behind the weir. In swimming pools this is where the external pump is attached. We much prefer to use submersible pumps so by cutting off the collection basket we could then simply attach the weir and holder to the face of the garbage can, inserting a submersible pump into the garbage can under and behind the debris and filter pad(s).

Our new cobbled-together skimmer worked great but the pump, a Little Giant #6 (3,000 gph), had a protective screen to prevent debris from damaging the impeller. That screen clogged every week but we still loved this skimmer. After all, the pump was now OUTSIDE the pond so lifting the pump out of the skimmer was pretty easy. I even installed a flexible radiator hose on the pump discharge and tied a rope to the pump. That way we could just pull up on the pump rope and access the pump & screen for cleaning without taking the plumbing apart or having to wade into the pond. What a maintenance boon!

Garys Blog - easier pump access with skimmers
Pumps could now be accessed easily.

Even though the skimmer worked just as planned we still felt the need to add more filtration. The skimmer was really a mechanical skimmer removing most floating debris before it would sink where it could foul the pond. I thought if we added a filter pad or pads to the skimmer we’d have a large surface area biological filter and that would help clarify the water and process the fish waste safely.

Garys Blog - skimmer cleaning pond of maple seeds
Skimmer cleaning pond of maple seeds 

Well we soon found out that since our pond was 1,000 gallons the biological capabilities of this skimmer were still a little too small. (Next week we’ll review the evolution of our BioFalls). However the filter pads did add a huge benefit; the small debris that used to slip through the debris net was caught more effectively by the filter pads. So now the pump lasted much longer before the pump screen needed cleaning.

Also, when a skimmer is used in conjunction with a Biofalls® or any biofilter it increases the efficiency of the filter:

A skimmer’s pre-filtration will protect the biofilter from collecting excess organic debris so it will effectively breakdown fish waste. The biggest problem for biofilters is clogging with too much waste which does not breakdown efficiently. A skimmer also uses water from the surface of the pond which has the highest available dissolved oxygen content. High dissolved oxygen is very important for efficient bacterial utilization of nitrogen compounds(fish waste).

We installed close to 100 ponds with this crude garbage-can skimmer but only one customer ever complained about this kind of “home-made” filter. And when he did I visited with him and told him if he could find a better skimmer we’d install it No Charge. We never heard from him again! By the time we had installed this many skimmers our business had grown to the point that we could afford tooling to build our very own custom Aquascape skimmer. We turned to a plastic manufacturing technique called “rotomolding” as the tooling was relatively inexpensive while the quality of the product was superb. A plastic charge of powdered product was introduced into a mold and the mold was heated and rotated. When the plastic melted it spread out inside the tooling to form the skimmer box. And it concentrated most at all the corners giving us exactly the strength we were seeking. No longer did we need to encase our skimmers in plywood like we did for the garbage can model – LOL. We tested this rotomolded housing by filling it up to the skimmer opening with water and letting it freeze solid. It passed with flying colors!

Garys Blog - winter freeze test
Winter freeze test

Here’s one of our original drawings to show our customers how the Aquascape skimmer was designed:

Garys Blog - original skimmer diagram
Original Skimmer diagram

At Aquascape we’re proud to say this same plastics company we started with in 1994 is in Wisconsin – so we’re able to use an American company for most of our molded plastic products to this day! And year after year we still run into fully functional garbage-can skimmers when we upgrade/enlarge ponds for our past customers – some of these skimmers have been running over 20 years and they still don’t miss a beat!

Notice the Seal of Approval from the National Pond Society? Sadly that organization and their PondScapes publication is not around anymore but we joined up with them in 1994 to help further the causes of our industry when it was just getting off the ground. We’ll do another blog on that group one of these days.

Help! My Pond is Frozen
Frozen Pond

Frozen Pond

What to do when your pond freezes over?

If you live in one of the colder climates as we do, you probably woke up to a pond or water feature that is all but frozen solid, a very bad cough, a nose that hasn’t stopped running for days, and a wicked headache. But i digress. Here in Lancaster, PA i woke up to temperatures that “Feel Like” 3 degrees according to my handy weather app. There are a few options to help your pond survive these ridiculously cold temperatures.

Like most pond owners you are probably very concerned about your ornamental fish’s well-being. As you should be. Koi and other ornamental fish will do just fine in at least two feet of water, as long as there is aeration provided, and a hole is kept in the ice to allow for the escape of harmful gases. Below are a few suggestion of the best practices for doing so.

If you have left your water feature run for the winter it is important your pond pump is strong enough to handle these temperatures. Typically a pump that is at least 2,000 gallons per hour can run through the winter without any issues. You’ll want to keep the pump running continuously to prevent freezing in the plumbing which could cause pipes to burst and or crack your check valve. With the pump running the waterfall will keep a hole open in the ice and allow for steady circulation through the pond. The waterfall may start to freeze on top but will continue to flow underneath the ice build up. Sometimes this build up can lead to water flowing outside of the pond so be sure to keep an eye out and fix the leak immediately or call a professional to do so for you (717-394-9923).

Pond Heater

Pond Heater

A Pond De-Icer is an absolute must. I recommend the Aquascape Pond De-Icer. The Aquascape Pond De-Icer prevents winter fish loss by keeping a hole open in the ice during the cold winter months. The Pond De-Icer helps ensure there is sufficient oxygen levels and proper gas exchange in the pond helping to prevent fish loss…even during extreme weather conditions. It is energy-efficient, requiring only 300-watts of electricity. The low energy consumption results in a heater that costs 5x less to operate than traditional Pond De-Icers you would find in the market. The Pond De-Icers stainless steel construction is extremely durable and prevents corrosion, cracking or issues caused by extreme weather. A built-in LED light at the top of the De-Icer allows you to look out the window of your warm home and see that the De-Icer is still operating.

Aeration is very important during winter months in colder climates. If you choose to turn off your waterfall pump, it is recommended you remove it along with the check valve and place it in a bucket of water in a warm location to prevent damage. If this is the case it is important you provided you pond with oxygen in some other way as aeration helps to keep a small hole open in the surface of the pond to aid in degassing. A pond aerator is an excellent option to oxygenate your pond, helping all biological processes and creating a more stable environment, resulting in healthier fish and plants. The Aquascape pond air is very energy-efficient, costing less than one dollar to operate per month and is easily one of the most cost-effective solutions for increasing oxygen and circulation throughout the pond.

Another option the AquaForce pump is a great winterizing pump for those that remove their waterfall pump or just prefer the added oxygen and circulation. It’s a re-circulating bubbler pump designed to sit in the pond and oxygenate the water. The adjustable discharge pipe on the pump should be located just below the surface of the water. The flow from the pump will bubble at the surface of the pond and maintain an opening in the ice.

As you can see there are plenty of options available to help your pond and fish survive the cold winter months. If you have further concerns or questions please feel free to contact us at 717-394-9923 or visit our contact page on our website:

How To Build a Backyard Pond
Building a Back Yard Pond in Lancaster, PA

Building a Back Yard Pond in Lancaster, PA

The first step in building a backyard pond is to chose location and size of the pond. Next you’ll want to use a hose to the desired shape and mark out the area with turf paint. After you have the pond area marked out you’ll want to set your bio falls and skimmer filters. Be sure to set these filters at opposite ends for ideal water flow. You’ll also want to keep in mind the main viewing area for the waterfalls at this time. Once the pond filters are set begin to connect the plumbing and back fill around skimmer and biofalls. Be sure to compact soil in layers to avoid settling. The skimmer and biofalls should both sit level front to back and side to side. The biofalls may lean slightly forward if desired. You may now begin to excavate your first shelf of the pond approx: 8-10 inches below grade. Continue this until you reach the recommended depth of 24″. We typically install 3 shelves in all ecosystem ponds. After the shelves are square and level you may now set the underlayment followed by the fish safe pond liner. When installing the liner be sure to remove as many folds as possible. After the liner is properly attached to both the biofalls filter and skimmer you may begin to start rocking in the pond. Be sure to use lots of different size and shape boulders to avoid a uniform look. Once the pond is totally rocked in and the waterfalls are built begin filling the pond rinsing down all rocks and gravel as you go. You’ll want to pump this water out as you rinse to avoid dirty water in the pond. As soon as the rocks and gravel rinse clean you may now fill the pond. Naturalize the pond with plants and mulch around the edges. Low growing “creeping” plants tend to help with the natural look without blocking the view of the pond. The final step… sit back and enjoy!

See how easy it is to transform your outdoor living space with the Aquascape DIY Backyard Pond Kit! Your pond maintenance is greatly reduced when you use an ecosystem approach to create your garden water feature using an easy-to-install kit.

Kit Incudes:

MicroSkim® – Removes leaves and debris from the surface of the pond and provides protection for your pump
MicroFalls® Filter – Provides complete biological filtration
AquaSurge® 2000 waterfall pump
25 feet of 1 1/2 ” quality kink-free hose
Pond Liner made from quality EPDM 45 mil fish safe rubber – 20-year guarantee!
Geotextile underlayment – Protects liner from sharp objects
All necessary fittings and silicone sealants
Complete installation instructions and owner’s manual
DIY Backyard Pond Kits come in the following sizes:
Size: 4′ x 6′ Pond Kit
Includes: 8′ x 10′ Liner (Unit Weight: 75 lbs.)

Size: 6′ x 8′ Pond Kit
Includes:10′ x 12′ Liner (Unit Weight: 87 lbs.)

Size: 8′ x 11′ Pond Kit
Includes: 12′ x 15′ Liner (Unit Weight: 107 lbs.)


Poolside Patio & Outdoor Living Area (Before & After)
Poolside Patio & Outdoor Living Area (Before & After)

Poolside Patio & Outdoor Living Area (Before & After)

This Poolside Patio and Outdoor Living area project is located in Hummelstown, PA. The project includes installation of upper and lower paver patios around the pool, cast concrete steps, and boulder retaining walls. The upper patio includes sitting wall and smokeless fire pit as well as stepping stone paths. This project also includes landscape lighting, landscaping and sod inside the fence and seeding outside the fence as well as shade trees and evergreen privacy trees. There is natural stone steppers and landscaping with tiki torch landscape lighting leading up to the pool slide. This is a true outdoor living paradise perfect for family get-together’s, but large enough to entertain the entire neighborhood!!!

Front Walkways at Penn Stone

This is a Front walkway project we did at the newly renovated Penn Stone in Lancaster, PA. The project consist of installation of a natural stone walkway out front of the new entrance on Ross Street. We also installed Brick Pavers between the flagstone walkway and the street curbing. C.E. Pontz Sons was one of a few contractors selected to take part in the hardscape and landscaping renovations.

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Walkway install at Penn Stone

Photos courtesy of Fig

More about the complete renovation project via Penn Stone:

Our project was designed by TONO Architects and RGS Associates, and is being constructed by Simeral Construction. When complete, our new facility will feature:

An improved showroom for exterior finishes, featuring 80 samples of stone veneer, 60 samples of brick and thin brick, and a full selection of natural stone and concrete hardscaping products
An expanded showroom for outdoor furniture and outdoor living products, featuring a dedicated design center where our expert staff can work closely with homeowners and designers to select custom outdoor furniture
Dedicated showroom space for outdoor kitchens, grilling, and outdoor fire features
An expanded contractor showroom featuing Lancaster’s best selection of tools and accessories for masonry and landscape contractors
PLUS, we are installing an expansive new outdoor display, featuring 10,000 square feet of Penn Stone products, including:

Built-in samples of over 100 natural stone, brick and concrete hardscaping products from Rolling Rock Building Stone, Everlast Stone, Marmiro Stones, EP Henry, Unilock, Glen-Gery Brick and Pine Hall Brick
Retaining walls and seating walls from EP Henry, Unilock and Eldorado Outdoor
Four fully-functional built-in fire features from EP Henry, Semco Stone, Isokern and Superior Clay, with components from FireGear Outdoors, American Fyre Designs, RH Peterson and Breeo
Fully-functional outdoor kitchens from Eldorado Outdoor and Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, featuring appliances and accessories from Delta Heat, American Outdoor Grill, Fontana Forni Ovens, and Summit Appliances
Landscape lighting throughout from CAST Lighting and Integral Lights

Large Scale Pond Starts to Flow

Large Scale Pond in Willow Valley is now up and running. This progress video is of a large scale pond we’re in the progress of building at Willow Valley Communities in Willow Steet, PA. Pontz is very excited to be a part of this project. Stay tuned for a final video and pictures of the completed pond project in the near future!

Wooded Outdoor Oasis in Progress…
Wooded Outdoor Oasis in Lancaster, PA

Wooded Outdoor Oasis in Lancaster, PA

This Wooded Outdoor Oasis project in Lancaster, PA includes installation of a multiple tier terrace boulder wall in the large embankment at the rear of the property.
Above the top tier of the boulder walls we be a natural flagstone patio and fire pit with an additional boulder retaining wall around the patio seating area. The fire pit will be a natural stone 48″ fire pit with wood burning smokeless fire pit insert. We installed natural stone steps on each tier of the wall for ease of access to the patio. Also included was installation of of a natural stone stepper walking path for access to the top of the embankment into the woods. The project will be finished off with plantings and landscape mulch beds throughout the property. There are other phases of this project still in the planning stages. Stay tuned for more on this project in the near future.

Front Yard Makeover Progress

This front yard makeover in progress consists of removal of large concrete pad, steps and aged front landscaping. We are in the process of installing a new natural stone patio with surrounding seating walls and steps with natural stone veneer to match the existing facade. There is landscape lighting installed throughout the project. A heated natural stone walkway is currently in progress, and updated landscaping will be installed throughout. This project is located in Lancaster, PA.

Light up Your Night with Landscape Lighting
Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Light up Your Night with low voltage Landscape Lighting. Landscape Lighting is an essential addition to any landscape. It extends the hours that you can enjoy your outdoors, as well as adds another dimension of BEAUTY and added security to your property. Packages are available for a wide range of uses including: lighting walkways, patios, retaining and seating walls, as well as those special architectural elements on your home and even inside your pond or water feature.

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Your outdoor living space becomes alive at night with the use of Landscape Lighting. Often over looked and under used landscape lighting provides a benefit to your home that simply has to be seen and experienced to be believed.

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

There is no reason that you can’t enjoy your yard at night as well as during the daytime. With the use of landscape lighting this becomes a reality. Whether it be dinner on the patio or those get-togethers with friends and family that last well into the evening.

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Landscape Lighting will provided you with getting the absolute most out of your outdoor living space. After all, who doesn’t want to get the most out of their investment. Make lighting a priority.

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA

Landscape Lighting install in Lancaster, PA


Underwater Pond & Landscape Lighting

Aquascape Garden & Pond Lighting

With today’s busy lifestyle, it can be difficult to enjoy your pond during the day. Underwater lights create a whole new experience by your pond after the sun goes down. And if you opt for LED lights, you’ll save on energy costs while lengthening your hours of pond enjoyment.

Aquascape LED lights use approximately 80-90% less electricity and last 10 times longer than their halogen counterparts. This is especially advantageous in a water garden setting where a submerged light can be difficult to access. The new Pond & Landscape LED Light Kit is a great choice for those looking for convenience in lighting options.

The Aquascape Pond & Landscape LED Light Kit is preassembled and pre-wired making installation a snap. Simply plug in the transformer, and your lights are ready to go. The kit includes 3 single-watt LED light fixtures. Each fixture includes a high-output LED light combined with an optical lens, which provides an extremely powerful light output for such a small fixture.

The waterproof design of the LED light fixture makes the unit extremely versatile, allowing it to be submerged underwater, as well as used alongside the water to highlight waterfall cascades, fountains, or even plants and trees surrounding the water feature.

What’s more, the Pond & Landscape LED Light Kit includes a built-in photocell that automatically controls the lights, turning the fixtures on at dusk, and off at dawn. The ability to use these lights above or below the water provides you with many creative ways to design them into any water feature setting.