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... Thinking it may be due to poor water quality, I scooped him out of the cup and carefully set him in the tank. It's like he didn't know how to swim, he just sank, and then would spazz his way back up to the surface for air...
From the sounds of that he went into shock and that's what killed him. Acclimation is essential, and that goes especially for weak, young, sensitive, and shipped fish. When a fish is dumped into water with a different chemistry (or temperature, but that doesn't sound like the case since he floated in the tank), their body can often not handle it... Sometimes even to the point of shutting down completely. I've watched it happen, both unintentionally (bag fell into the water while I was eating, fish died) and induced (when done properly, temperature induced shock is a humane method of euthanasia).

To acclimate properly the fish is not only being adjusted to the temperature, but to the new chemistry. This involves slowly (over an hour or more in some cases) adding small amounts of water from the tank into the bag or cup, and letting the fish go after the bag is now almost completely filled with tank water as opposed to the original water. Another method is the drip method, where you drip water slowly into a container holding the fish and original water. This is a bit of extra trouble for bettas, but is arguably the best way to acclimate fish.

I'm really sorry for your loss. Shock sucks, and I'm sure the two hour drive to get him didn't help.
 
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