Pirayaman--I mean, that's pretty much the idea. Those leaves have some pretty vital chemicals in them that, as they rot, become available for other plants both in and out of the tank. It's what happens in Nature, so I figured "why not"? It also helps to make things look a bit "unclean" or slightly dirtly....something that is too pristine looks unnatural to me and really stands out in a poor way.
CG-Surprisingly, the joints have worked really, really well. No rust, no loosening; Devin not only did a great job in their construction, he gave me the appropriate pieces to put them together and hold up under the relative punishment I give them. That, and I'm pretty good with a screwdriver and a wrench. lol! I will say that the amount of weight that an "end" piece holds really isn't very much, even when wet from watering. I've made certain to bear that in mind during the decorating to not over-load branch ends.