I think I came up with a possible issue. I used a new 15 gallon bucket to dechlorinate as I assumed it would be easier than my previous 5 gallon buckets. either the water wasn't dechlorinated properly. or the bucket still held some kind of chemical which killed my precious microbacterial life.
gonna pump her full of synthetic nutes(jacks classic bloom) till I see some tip burn. then back off.