So, my grandmother wanted her own shrimp aquarium for Christmas. I set one up, cycled it, and stocked it just in time for Christmas for her. I've had nothing but trouble with it since, however.
The cycle had a hiccup but is improving, the addition of new livestock caused it to produce ammonia/nitrites faster than the bacteria could process it but we were still getting good nitrate readings. I've been keeping an eye on it, doing dripped water changes as needed and dosing with Prime and Stability daily.
My bigger problem now is that the PH and KH are tanking hard and I'm baffled as to the cause. My PH test seems to be fine, if I test my tap water (high end of 7) it shows the color perfectly so I don't think it's a false reading on my aquarium. My GH, meanwhile, is pretty high. Everything in the aquarium is inert. I use distilled or RODI water and remineralize with SaltyShrimp GH/KH+.
The substrate is primarily Seachem Flourite Dark, as well as some Flourite Black Sand. The height is built up with lava rock under the substrate. The hardscape is Dragonstone. There's a small piece of driftwood that's been in use for several months and is no longer releasing tannins and didn't seem to impact the prior, smaller aquarium's PH, as well as a small piece of cholla. I also have some crushed coral in the filter to try to keep the PH up. The water I'm dripping in is higher in PH but seems to make no impact, as soon as I test the tank itself again it's just as low as before the water change.
I'm at a complete loss, and so frustrated. Is there something I'm not thinking of that could be bringing my PH down? Should I try removing the driftwood pieces? Is it possible the SaltyShrimp GH/KH+ is bad? I noticed it was clumpy, but when I remineralize and test the new water everything is as it should be. Any help would be appreciated.