Don't go cheap on the grow media. Do it right the first time. Clay pebbles are great but a little on the expensive side. Hope things go well for you.
Larry, just a short drive and you can get expanded shale from wvu. you will want a mix of shale and hydroton.
I, too, am retired. Last Spring, I started researching aquaponics for my daughter soon to retire, became interested, and continued the research. In August, she received nine pages of references and links. Today that Summary of References is 67 pages long. But good, as the hunter said. Also, there is a PowerPoint presentation of almost 10 MB in size. These are free to anyone wanting them. No catch; no charge! They should save beginners much sweat, tears, and money.
Just send me an email address. Al Hodges firstname.lastname@example.org (San Diego, CA)
I am amazed at the thorough reference documents (Al Hodges) compiled, and highly recommend everyone view it that has the opportunity to. It's such a generous gesture. The document is full of such detailed tips and information. It's a great resource for us newbies.
The current version of "References for Aquaponics Beginners"
has passed 130 pages. The PowerPoint slide presentation has
Also, I have prepared two other PowerPoint slide files, one for
getting water from the air and another about eradicating mosquito
borne diseases using aquaponics. The method of using mosquito
fish has been proven in Sochi, Russia and Punjab, Pakistan.
Tim Mann, in Hawaii, eradicated mosquitoes using aquaponics.
Same offer; no charge. As I am 86 years old, this is a limited time offer.