Update: It is the end of day 2 and he is breathing heavy again. I will change the tank in the morning. Do those betta water conditioner tablets work? Perhaps I should try investing in those to keep tank levels correct.
I am considering taking him to PetSmart and demanding someone tell me what is wrong with him before I have to, then have that person explain to me why it happens and how to prevent it.
Invest in a bottle of Prime water conditioner, they sell it at PetSmart in an orange and white bottle. It's 2 drops per gallon of water and everyone here swears by it. Don't waste your money on tablets. I'm a college student too, I understand money stuff.
" However, i do not want to diagnose him just yet and am going to see how long it is until is heavy breathing starts up again. Today is day 2 of being in the glass bowl. Usually it takes 3-4 days."
If it is taking 3/4 days for the heavy breathing to start, is it possible that he is suffering from ammonia poisoning and actually needs MORE water changes???
Gonna quote this.. seeing as it's not your water conditioner, I really want to guess this is what's wrong. I'm thinking that you should probably not wait until he starts breathing heavily and change his water more often. If anything, clean water should help his situation. That's just what it seems like to me, at least, hopefully someone else will poke their head in here and offer some more advice.
I don't have live plants and I can't afford them. I shouldn't have to change his water every other day, so I wonder what the problem is. Also, when he does breath normal, I noticed his gills pop out from underneath like they are swollen and a little on the side that works harder.
Well I'm only offering my opinion, but seeing as your tank is 2.5 gallons and doesn't have a filter, I think you should be changing the water every other day. I'm surprised that more people haven't posted to offer their opinions in here, but considering that you're using a good water dechlorinator and nothing else seems to be out of place, I'm willing to bet that's what it is. Feel free to wait for someone else to take a guess, but the people at petco or petsmart won't be able to tell you what's wrong.. they know less about keeping bettas properly than anyone. The most they'll do is test your water to see what its levels are.