Urban Farming Guys
Aquaponics overview: It seems like no one has really published a fully documented open source design for a full closed loop aquaponics system, is that the case? If so it's going to take a bit of research and prototyping to produce the first finished design. It looks like with http://theurbanfarmingguys.com/aquaponics-how-to aquaponics principles video and designs http://theurbanfarmingguys.com/wiki/knowledgebase-2/aquaculture-aquaponics/aquaponics-system-plans/40-gallon-tote-basement-system plus the OSE aquaponics page we have enough information to start with.
However, one of the difficulties with the UFGuys is that their system breaks the rule of "2x as much growing media as fish space" so in the 40-gal-tote system, there should be three totes, 2 for veggies and 1 for fish.
For optimal production you need tools to measure the system to make sure its running correctly. There's a basic list of things to measure here for hydroponics: http://www.n55.dk/MANUALS/HOME_HYDRO/HOME_HYDRO.html Light, pH, Conductivity, Nutrients, Temperature, Water quality. What tools are used to measure those? Where are good places to get those tools?
Aquaponics for Beginners
Before diving head-first into aquaponics and using large barrels or stock tanks, it is best to experiment with a smaller aquaponics plans. Goldfish and koi are both readily available at pets stores and make easy-to-care for aquaponics fish for beginners. While fish like trout and tilapia are great for large aquaponics systems, water temperatures and water quality must be closely monitored and adhered to. Starting with aquaponics kits may be the best route to take as an introduction into the aquaponics hobby. These are small, easy to operate table-top systems. Once you master the operations of a small system, then you may be ready to step up to a larger one. Edible fish have a better chance of survival when raised in a 100+ barrel or stock tank, so size matters in this case. Be sure you have all the equipment necessary to keep your fish alive and your plants well-feed (with plenty of supplemental LED grow lights). Monitor the water quality often, and do not let water temperatures fluctuation outside of recommended ranges. Be patient, as most aquaponics fish take up to a 9-12 months to become plate size.