Bela's apprehensiveness in the first panel is somewhat justified: I am kind of his Morlock.
I've lightly salted his water and administered the herbal medication Rid Fungus (which smells like cinnamon!) for the pale tufts on his head. But then I saw that his breathing had become labored and I could see his gills under their covers, which isn't normal unless he's flaring at something. That and the languor points to a bacterial infection, so today I went to the awesome fish supply place in the Bowery and got him some amoxicillin and threw that in too.
The awesome fish supply place, incidentally, is Pacific Aquarium on Delancey. It's nice for a change to be able to speak to someone knowledgeable and friendly. There are surprisingly few good aquarium shops in New York, but these guys discussed Bela's symptoms with me and were able to grab right off the shelf the medication none of the big-box places I'd called had in stock. They advised me about dosage and tank filtration too. The guy who rang me up congratulated me on having gotten a betta to three years old (really probably more like four, given that he was full-grown when I bought him). "Yeah, maybe it's just his time," I said, but the cashier told me not to think like that. And because he's clearly knowledgeable, it seems prudent to follow this instruction.
While we're waiting and seeing, and I continue pouring and stirring, join me and my European friend in holding your thumbs for Bela, won't you? The more thumbs we get involved in this the better.