My youngest son got a betta for the holidays. It is currently in a tiny (maybe half gallon?) bowl. I'm taking the opportunity to give him some more space and more plants.
The first layer is organic potting soil (brown bag). Nothing I had was the right size to sift this stuff to get out the wood... so it stayed in.
The cap is course black sand from the local pet store. Rinsed and laid on pretty thick.
I would like to try to get a couple shrimp in there with the betta, so I'm going to be giving TONS of hiding spots. Hopefully I can get some plants this weekend. I really don't have much in terms of availability here except petco.
Hopefully I'll be able to find some Nana and some Valesneria.
My betta did fine with a large ghost shrimp. But as soon as the stand off would be over the ghost shrimp didn't go into hiding or seem too fearful but that was in a 10 gallon, 2 gallon might be different.
I have ghost shrimp in with most of my betta with no issues. Occasionally, a betta will snag a small one when they are first introduced but after that have never seen any aggression at all. Would assume they would be the same with other similar sized shrimp.
I wouldn't do cherry. Both the Betta and the ghost shrimps will attack them. Also keep an eye on the ghost, some may be aggressive and slash at the Betta's fins even if the Betta can't see them. You could add a couple snails to help with algae and substrate debris.