First step, which I think is a big one. The lighting.
I've always been unhappy with the lights. The tank has a cheap stock hood with two sockets that only fit the T10 size tube bulbs. When I set it up originally, the best I could find was some 7w 2700k bulbs. The cfl's everyone recommended were simply too big, and we have a much smaller selection in Canada then the US apparently.
But today I was on a mission, I hit up three stores, Walmart, Rona and Canadian Tire. At Canadian Tire I found one brand that finally had a mini spiral with what I hope is the proper light. It doesn't say 6500k, but it does say "Daylight", with the little light spectrum picture showing the highest level, which was comparable with the other brands that said "Daylight 6500K". So I'm hoping its at least 5000k and hopefully 6500k. Either way, better then what I had.
They are small, but it was a pain getting them in. There is a rubber ring around the socket, and the spiral bulb is still a bit bigger then the tube bulb. But I finally managed to get them both in (miraculously without even breaking a bulb!). And wow!!! I can't believe the difference! I know my water is tinged with tannins, but the colour of the old bulbs was always a bit yellow which made it worse.
The cfl bulbs give off such a white light! It looks much clearer and crisper. Unfortunately it also shows the green dust algae off more too. But that's another step I'll worry about later.
So big difference for $11! I wish I had done this sooner (although when I originally looked, I never saw this smaller size, just the larger cfl's which would never fit.
And a funny thing, after I put the new lights in, my dog sat in front of the tank for about 10min staring like she's never noticed it was there before! I guess the new lights caught her attention!