I also rescued a betta five days ago. I went to Wal-mart to buy water conditioner for my daughter's betta, and found a pale grey betta laying on his side in his filthy container. His body was twisted, his fins were rotting and his gills were black. While I didn't know whether we could save him, it looked like he was ready to be flushed, so I brought Nemo home.
Thanks to everyone who has already posted on this forum. Here's what we've done so far:
Nemo is living in a small, 1 quart glass container in about 1 1/2 inches of water (so he can reach the top to breathe). The water temperature is 79 degrees. I've added 10 drops of Start Right and 2 teaspoons of sea salt to a gallon jug of tap water.
Twice a day, I've added two cups of warm water (88 degrees) to his bowl, let it mix with the existing water, and then removed the extra water so it's back down to 1 1/2 inches. The higher temperature seems to perk him up. (By the way, a digital meat thermometer is a great improvised tool for checking water temperature!)
On day 3 Nemo started to eat- we were trying to feed him fish flakes. Today, he graduated to 2 pellets! His color is returning- his tail is changing to red, and his body is a deep tan with tints of blue on his scales. His top fin and his tail are very active, but his bottom fin is relatively lifeless (better than when we got him, but not yet 100%). His body is still a little twisted, but definitely improving- he can lay down flat on the bottom, where only a couple of days ago, he would list to one side. He is able to make it to the top of the water, and is even starting to follow my finger. :)
The big debate now is about "Melafix". We added it to his water for the first 3 days, but we haven't added it yesterday or today. Do you think we should continue to add it? The Start Right contains conditioner (chlorides of sodium, pottassium, allantoin, and polyvinylpyrrolidone).
He has a 2 gallon fishtank waiting for him- it's already set up and filtering. He tried it out yesterday, but it took all of his energy to swim to the top for some air, so we put him back in the small bowl. We'll try the larger bowl again tomorrow.
This little critter definitely is a fighter, and we are optimistic that he'll survive. I'd appreciate any tips or suggestions you may have. Thanks!