So I have kept dwarf cichlids for several years and had success breeding Kribs, gb rams, and Apistogramma Agassizii. Where I lived at the time had hard water so I adjusted with discus buffer. We moved states and I'm setting up tanks starting with a 10 gal in my daughter's room. The parameters of the tap water are Ph: 8.4, Ammonia: 0.5ppm, Nitrite: 0.0ppm. As a test I conditioned 5 gallons with stress coat and let rest for 2 days and the Ph and Ammonia droped to 7.8 and 0.25ppm. I plant cycled the tank and did not use the discus buffer. It is a little under a month old and I have new growth on the plants. I did regular water changes and after the nitrites spiked and fell back to 0 the the water is Ph: 6.6, Ammonia: 0.25ppm, Nitrite: 0.0ppm, Nitrate: 20ppm my hardness kit is slightly expired but reads Gh: 89.5ppm and Kh: 35.8ppm. I have added 2 small Amano shrimp and a Mistery snail and there are some bladder and rams horn snails that came in with the plants. My question is can the driftwood acount for the drop in Ph or could there be residual buffer agent in the substrate causing the drop? I ask because the next tank will be a low tech 3gal nano for my wife's office that will house blue dream shrimp and a pair of Scarlett Badis which will be my first time with that style of tank and shrimp. I plan on buying a shrimp/plant substrate and trying to figure out if I'll need anything else to get the water right. Thanks for your time and any information you can provide.