It looks like they're (breeders) experimenting with the "pot belly" or "balloon" gene that has been discovered with the livebearers...like mollies, swordtails, etc. The betta in the picture has the face of a balloon molly! Pretty weird. If I were to guess at whether it's painful... I'd say, no. I've owned many balloon mollies and they are healthy and seem to do very well. I know mollies and bettas both like some salt...wonder if this little guy likes a bunch?
Does anyone know if Dr. Drew contracts with hopelessly addicted fish keepers?