Modern research makes frequent use of animal models, that is, organisms raised and bred experimentally in order to help the understanding of biological and chemical processes affecting organisms or whole environments. The development of flexible, reprogrammable and modular systems that may help the automatic production of ‘not-easy-to-keep’ species is important for scientific purposes and for such aquaculture needs as the production of alive foods, the culture of small larvae and the test of new culture procedures. For this reason, we planned and built a programmable experimental system adaptable to the culture of various aquatic organisms, at different developmental stages. The system is based on culture cylinders contained into operational tanks connected to water conditioning tanks. A programmable central processor unit controls the operations, that is, water changes, temperature, light irradiance, the opening and closure of valves for the discharge of unused foods, water circulation and filtration and disinfection systems, according to the information received by various probes. Various devices may be set to modify water circulation and water changes to fulfil the needs of given organisms, to avoid damage of delicate structures, improve feeding performances and reduce the risk of movements over the water surface. The results obtained indicate that the system is effective in the production of shrimp larvae, being able to produce Hippolyte inermis post-larvae with low mortality as compared with the standard operation procedures followed by human operators. Therefore, the patented prototype described in the present study is a possible solution to automate and simplify the rearing of small invertebrates in the laboratory and in production plants.