Is there a spot on the STL part of this forum to post a warning/complaint about a LFS in the St. Louis area?
A .003 SG difference could simply be the variation in refractometers or test equipment. The accuracy of a Milwaukee digital refractometer is +/- .002 SG. I would expect the accuracy of a refractometer would be even less. In all likelihood, their test equipment is reporting 1.025 SG on their tanks. If they tested your tank, they would probably read 1.028. Either way, both SG are totally acceptable and well within standards for fish and coral. To me, a .003 difference wouldn't concern me when acclimating new fish or coral. It's not like the store was running hypo salinity at 1.008-1.010 SG and telling you it's 1.025 SG. Honestly, I would be looking elsewhere for the cause of the death of your fish and coral. If all parameters are in check as your signature implies, they may have died simply from the stress of being plucked from the ocean, flown thousands of miles, handled, treated, dipped, dumped, and from moving between less than ideal living conditions on their travels to your house. That seems to be a common culprit when everything else checks out.
Disclaimer: I don't know what store you are referring to. Just providing my experience.
Also, it may be worth taking your refractometer to the store and testing salinity side by side. Maybe your refractometer isn't calibrated properly? I don't know a single LFS that would be offended with a customer trying to compare/calibrate their test equipment.
kegogut are you saying you instantly mix 1:1 then drip more? just curious haven't heard that method before
I personally dont drip my corals. I float them for about 30 minutes then in the tank they go.
For fish I try to make sure the store has had them for at least 2 weeks, then I take them home and mix 1 part my water to 1 part theirs and drip for 30 minutes. I used to drip for a long time but had a lot of fish die off on me as well. I havent had any fish die off in quite a while.
I would take some of your water to the LFS in question and have them test it and explain to them what happened. They may be willing to work with you on recouping some of your loss.