High resolution video-microscopy was used to observe grazing patterns of the heterotrophic nanoflagellates Cafeteria roenbergensis, Bodo saltans, Spumella sp., and Ochromonas sp. Spumella and Ochromonas enclose food particles with pseudopodia while Cafeteria and Bodo engulf particles by invagination of the cell surface. The following parameters of the feeding process were quantified: frequency of flagellar beating, speed of particles in different positions of the feeding current, food size selection, feeding rate, and the time budget for the handling of particles. The mean handling times differed between 94 s for Cafeteria and 4 s for Ochromonas for ingested particles. Handling times for ingested particles were significantly longer than for non-captured particles. Long handling times were calculated to be disadvantageous only for flagellate- which propel a high water volume per hour (esp. Ochromonas) or live in a bacteria-rich environment. Our model calculations may provide a reasonable theoretical explanation for a concentration-dependent behavioural variability of the feeding strategy of different heterotrophic nanoflagellates (HNF) species.