Freshwater Aquarium/Transitioning sick betta to better habitat
Last summer, I was given a male betta as a gift, already settled in an "attractively furnished" gallon size bowl, and complete with food and water conditioner. Being my first fish, I inquired from the friend about how to care for him... including a little concern about the size of his home. I was told it was ample for him, so he's lived there for 8 months... with regular water changes and fairly stable water temps. (mid-70's,). We thought he was doing pretty well, but a 3 days ago, we noticed color changes in his dorsal fin (fading). Online researching led to our first suspect that it might be fin-rot, but upon closer inspection, we see loss of color at the base of the fin on his back. I have taken a couple of photos... since we are not sure. Now, after a couple of more days and several hours of studying fish diseases and "proper betta fish care"... we came to the realization that we have been sorely neglecting his needs for a long time now! Our little friend has been living in "sub-standard housing" which has most likely caused undue stress on his body (and most probably, his mind too) and he's sick... and WE ARE AT FAULT!
Next week, when we hope to buy the items needed... testing supplies, a small aquarium, heater, new foods, etc., but in the meantime, we have taken several measures to try and improve the situation. On this site (and several others) adding aquarium salt and daily water changes was recommended as a "first" course of action (which we have done). We also have increased his water temperature a little to average about 80 degrees, and taken out his "castle" to give him more room to swim (a plastic plant remains, which I hope to change to silk). Diet change has been instituted... and I finally got him to eat a couple of pellets (softened beforehand)! (Note: when we first got him, he spit them out, so we bought him flakes). After reading so many posts that were "anti-flake", the "BettaMin Tropical Medley" flakes have been "suspended". I apologize for such detail, but I thought it would be more helpful.
HOW LONG should we wait before altering his treatment plan (should we go ahead and give him some sort of antibiotic/anti-parasite/fungus aid)? Will putting him in an aquarium speed his recovery?
Try moving to a bigger tank. A one gallon would be just fine. Anything bigger would work too. He seems under stress so you can try some API Stress Coat which removes stress up to 40%. His stress could be caused by lack of space, water current, and/or temperature changes. I recommend not to change the temperature too much because it will cause loss of appetite. If the problem is lack of water current, try installing a filter which will provide a comfortable current for him. Just don't use those water jets which will cause giant wavers in the water.
Try the Stress Coat, it's a very useful item that's about $4-7.