© 2020, The Author(s). This work aimed to evaluate the link between the occurrence/abundance of Vibrio populations and bacterial composition in shrimp’s intestine (Litopenaeus vannamei) during post-larval ontogenetic development and in its culture water, and the correlation of these with environmental parameters. The total and metabolically active populations of Vibrio in the digestive tract of shrimp during its post-larval development were analysed using quantitative PCR (qPCR) and reverse transcription qPCR targeting the 16S rRNA gene sequence. A lab-scale shrimp bioassay was performed for 80 days in a recirculating aquarium under strictly controlled conditions. The results indicate that the Vibrio population from shrimp’s gut is associated with its developmental stage and the environment. Multivariate analyses revealed that the presence of Vibrio spp. drove the studied system, but their metabolically active performance was related to earlier developmental stages in an aqueous environment. Also, the samples taken from water of culture units to compare the influence of the aquatic environment on the intestinal microbial community during shrimp’s ontogenetic development showed significant differences. Finally, our results revealed that Vibrio is an important member of shrimp’s gut microbiota; however, its metabolic activity seems to be highly regulated, possibly by the host and by the rest of the microbiota.