03-08-2013, 11:48 AM
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To your initial questions. Let the maple leaves completely dry. I have read that maple can be used. I have a maple tree, but with an oak tree I have more than enough leaves just from the oak. By completely dry I mean to lay them out (on paper towels or something) until they are brittle dry to the touch.
The kumquat I would not use, unless one of us can find data that it is safe; some trees contain toxic sap/resin. Go with oak, beech, maple.
I find that leaves in my tanks take several months to fall apart. Their nutritional value (as a source of infusoria food for fish, snails, shrimp) would be gone more quickly of course, but the leaf structure remains and provides an interesting layer on the substrate, as the video Olympia linked shows.