Thanks for the advice. I know with my freshwater hobby the frustration of constantly conflicting information. Saltwater seems so complicated to me. We've been researching the internet (not always reputable) and talking to people (also not always reputable), and just trying to glean whatever we can from it. So your input is greatly appreciated.
I am aware of the cycling/biological process, by the way.
I've done it many times with freshwater tanks over the years. We had read and been told several places that the bacteria needed a source of ammonia in order to begin cycling (as with freshwater), and that fish or inverts provided that. Are you saying that the live rock and sand will release ammonia on their own, or did I misunderstand?
If we remove the damsels, will the "pods" you mention grow back? Or are they likely gone for good? Thing is, Mike was going to put a little tiny $0.99 hermit crab in, and then we happened by a fish store, where the clerk informed us the best thing was damsels. So in they went LOL. I will pass your info on to my boyfriend (also named Mike), and we'll go from there.
Thanks so much for everyone's help, it really makes a difference (at least it has on the fresh boards; I'm new to the salt board)!