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2.5 ppm nitrite is a serious problem and means your tank is not yet fully cycled despite the sponge filter. With fish that means big, frequent water changes until the bacteria catches up, but I don't know if there are any accommodations you should make with shrimp. This is definitely an acute problem that must be handled in the immediate term. You can worry about proper feeding and care after this is brought under control. You should pause feeding them for the moment because that food is adding to your nitrite problem.

(And I would not hesitate to remove the heater, but that issue is much less important than the nitrite.)
 
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