Just like any other day, Nick Davis, a third year marine biology major, prepared squid to feed to his long-spine porcupine fish, Dumpling.
This time, he spontaneously decided to record himself doing it and posted the video on TikTok, a social media platform centered around 15-second videos.
The video, Squid Day for Dumpling, ended up garnering over 1.5 million likes and over six million views.
Now, Davis has 234,800 followers, and he attributes his TikTok fame to Dumpling and his other pets Hector, a frog and a chinchilla named Lana. All three of which live happily together in the environmental science lab in the Science Building since their living arrangements are too large for campus housing.
“It was absolutely crazy to me,” Davis said. “I remember being totally mesmerized by my phone watching these insane numbers going up on my video and follower count.”
After Squid Day for Dumpling, Davis felt inspired and decided that this could be a great outlet to continue sharing his passion for animals, and educating others through these videos.
“I believe that it all comes down to educating people in a respectful manner,” he said. “Especially with pet care.”
At the top of his profile, he linked his Amazon pet supplies list for people getting started in aquarium pet care.
Davis’ followers have created fan art of Dumpling while Mic, a news organization, asked permission to use the video in its article. They published Dumpling and Davis in December, as a part of their article, 5 TikToks that connected us when we needed it the most.
Other media companies also asked to use his videos. He specifically recalled when 9gag, a media platform for creating and sharing memes, asked to use his content.
Davis was ecstatic.
“[At first,] I just thought it would be used on their site, but when they posted it on their Instagram, I was able to gain a bit of a following on there as well,” Davis said.
Davis’ love for marine life began at a young age.
“For the longest time, I have always been so interested in animals and fish, and other aquatic life have always stood out to me,” he said. “Marine biology has always just been a huge interest of mine.”
When Davis discovered Goshen College offered a major focused on marine biology, he jumped right in.
Today, he manages his school work and consistently creates content for his TikTok page.
“A lot of the time, I do my coursework in advance to open up time for making content,” Davis explained. “This is always something I have done, and I found that it works great for being able to balance both at the same time.”
After graduating from Goshen College, Davis sees himself working in a zoological setting with marine animals.
“I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to gain this kind of following creating content about topics I am so very passionate about,” he said. “I would have never thought over two hundred thousand people would want to watch me rambling about animals, and feeding my fish.”
“I hope,” Davis said, “to continue creating both fun and educational animal based content. It is quite amazing how the internet works.”