Ok, I think I've found a pretty good solution to my fish's problem. Most mornings I get up before daylight, so I open the window shade and let the room gradually light up as the sun rises, then turn the tank light on. That seems to make a huge difference in his reaction. Thanks to all of you for helping pinpoint my problem
While none of my fish ever freaked out, I do leave the shades open overnight and the room lights up slowly with sunrise, the lights come on around 10am, so the room is as bright as its going to get without turning on the room light. OK fine maybe I do leave one light on when I leave in the morning :) it doesnt do very much though.
I didn't always do this though, and they never seemed to freak out except maybe one jolt at times from one or two.
yeah you know that blind feeling you get when the lights been off and suddenly they get turned on and you can't see.i agree with Molliefan, about turning the main room light on first(out in the wild they don't have a light switch).but what i also do is turn one light in my strip on first and about 15-20mins the other one.