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test kits

I think I need recommendations on test kits.  I happen to have a "Deluxe
Fresh Lab" by Red Sea Fish pHarm LTD.  It contains tests for pH,
Ammonia, Nitrite, GH, KH, Fe, CO2, and Cl2.  I don't think it is very
accurate.  According to these tests, this is what my water is like:
pH = 7.5
Ammonia = 0
NO2 = 0
GH = 12 deg
KH = 4 deg
Fe = 0.1 ppm
CO2 = 40 ppm

Notice the problem?  According to the charts available online (I checked
Chuck's site) my pH and KH show my CO2 is just under 4 ppm, not 40.
That's fine, I can say that my CO2 test is simply unreliable, but what
about the others?  The pH I've tested with another kit (one by Hagen),
and it shows the same.  But maybe it is my KH not showing right? Or
maybe KH and GH.  The Fe looks right (isn't 0.1 ppm what I want?), but
I'm adding CO2, I've got 4 x 40w fluorescents over 55 gallons, and
I have to trim the plants weekly.  They are all pearling by 5 hours of
light.  I have had anacharis, ozellot swords, and ludwigia, and
yesterday I added cabomba, diandra, and a little more anacharis.  This
replaced some largish amazon swords.  Everything was pearling (though
the new plants haven't, as they've just been there for about 24 hours)
yesterday, and everything that isn't new is still pearling today.  My
DIY CO2 just ran out today and I changed it while I was doing these
tests.  My questions are 1) does it look like I need new test kits? 2)
if so, what brand(s) 3) could the addition of new plants (the tank is at
least 3 times as thickly planted today as it was yesterday) affect this
so that the readings are off (this doesn't make sense to me, but I won't
assume it isn't possible) 4) could the sputtering out of the yeast make
CO2 levels change quickly enough that the CO2 test just isn't working
today, but the KH and pH are? 5) does it matter from where in the tank
I take the water?  It is difficult to get to the tank itself, so I took
the water from the intake side of an aquaclear (which only has foam in
it...that was cleaned yesterday when the new plants were added) Finally
6) should I just know in the future not to run tests when something
major has changed in the tank?  Maybe things will be less accurate after
tripling the plant load (and adding a large piece of driftwood, if that
matters) and washing one of the small filters.

Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read my long post.
I tried to give as much detail as possible; I hope it doesn't bore.