Originally Posted by bwilcox1208
...But I saw myself on the strip test that it was ok. ...
There's the answer to your own question. Test strips are notoriously hit and miss. Any LFS
, in my opinion, that is determining whether your tank is ready for livestock by using test strips doesn't deserve your business... let alone anyone else's.
You've made the first steps to getting yourself out of the hole... getting test kits and doing your own tests. However, I note your pH test kit is for freshwater. Are there two color charts that came with it? I think the chemicals used for freshwater and saltwater are the same, it's just that the color chart is different. If you don't specifically have a saltwater color chart, then I'd wouldn't trust that pH reading too much.
Nitrites at 1.0 - that makes sense. As several have mentioned, you're most likely in the beginning or middle of a normal cycle. It could take a bit for livestock to show signs of stress from the cycle, so just because they're alive now doesn't mean the cycle isn't happening. Trust your test kits. (Plus... zoanthids are pretty darn tough to kill. Except in my tank.
Personally... if it was me... I'd...
1. Take the damsel back to for a refund/credit if you can.
2. Put 30-40 lbs of live rock in the tank
3. Buy a refractometer and ditch the hydrometer
4. Get a test kit for ammonia
... and then let the tank cycle on its own without fish, and with all your live rock in there to start with. After the ammonia and nitrite levels are at 0.0, THEN add livestock - but only at a rate of 1 fish per month.
And hopefully there's another LFS
near you that is truly interested in helping you set up a successful tank.