Thank you for your good advice!
I only have the test strips to test the water, and don't know how helpful they are so I've been taking the water to the store to test it. I wish I could test the ammonia here, though. I suppose there's something I could buy for that - ideas?
Also since it was a newer tank, I was advised not to change the water too often. I've had it going a couple months now; how often do you recommend? And did you mean you put prime in with the tap water (as opposed to Aqua safe which I've been using)?
Btw, I took the advice of the pet store employee and bought some cheap White Cloud fish to see if the tank is viable, and they are doing fine on day 4. I'm not sure when/if to try gouramis or anything else.
Thanks again for your help.