Hey Tom, I've been working with aquaponics for a few years now, also trying to close the loop. The main consideration with an aquaponic system as opposed to recirculating aquaculture is the presence of the biofilter aka the plant growing beds. These grow beds contain the bacteria that carry out nitrification and allow the plants to absorb the excess nitrogen not consumed by the fish. The removal of this nitrogen is essential to maintaing non-toxic water quality and of course helping to close the loop by utilizing the nutrients not absorbed into the fish (pooped out). I've been growing BSFL on city food wastes with some good success. I'll be writing a thesis this year on growing tilapia with BSFL, duckweed, and algae as 100% of the feed, so I can let you know how that goes!
Avoiding pumps is difficult. You want to recirculate your water once an hour if your @ maximum stocking density, this is to keep the water fresh and oxygenated. Most people opt to not run stocking densities this high because of lots of other problems but I want to illustrate the point that chaining water by hand is infeasible.
Check out Nate Storey's youtube page. He releases tons short videos on aquaponics: https://www.youtube.com/user/NateStorey1
. Also check out backyard aquaponics @ http://www.backyardaquaponics.com
. As J. Robinson said Aquaculture by McLarney is a a good one for general aquaculture info.
All in all, I will say if you can
have a pond and use the ancient chinese pond fertilization method with several feeding levels of fish (top feeders, middle feeders, bottom feeders) it will be 100x easier to maintain and probably yield more too. You can read about that technique in Aquaculture by McLarney as well or Farmers of 40 Centuries.