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Phosphate & dead leaves

> I've seen people on the APD list in the past recommend plant sticks
> with phosphate. They reason that as long as the phosphate remains in
> the gravel, that they will hopefully avoid the algae problems caused
> by excessive phosphates in the water column. 
> It seems to me that the plants will absorb the phosphates in the
> substrate and grow. Eventually plant leaves will fall off and begin
> decomposing and release phosphates now into the water column. I would
> also guess that that same thing would happen if I did _not_ use these
> plant sticks, but the phosphates would be released at a lower level.

My first thought when I read this was, "I vacuum/pick out dead leaves before
they decompose, so I wouldn't have to worry about this". Then I remembered
something I read once regarding ponds & leaves, and now have the following
question. What I read was that when a leaf falls into a pond, most of the
phosphate is leached out into the water within about 10-15 minutes or so.
Vacuuming out dead leaves after that wouldn't reduce phosphate levels much.
So, does anyone know approximately when most of the phosphate leaches out of
a dead or dying leaf of a submerged plant in our tanks? Just how dead does it
have to be? If I were worried about excess phosphate, should I prick out the
dying leaves at the first sign of yellowing? Or is it already too late at
that point?

In Sacramento